CORRECTED-Canada energy regulator engineers investigated by industry group

Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:52pm EDT
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(Corrects paragraph five to show audit had been scheduled, not prompted by allegations)

By Mike De Souza

OTTAWA, March 25 (Reuters) - Senior engineers at Canada's energy regulator are under investigation by their professional association over their probe of alleged safety code violations at TransCanada Corp, Canada's second largest pipeline operator.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) confirmed to Reuters it is investigating some of its members who work at the National Energy Board (NEB).

The engineers had been investigating allegations of natural gas pipeline safety-code violations at TransCanada, brought to light by a whistleblower.

The same whistleblower, a former TransCanada employee who left the company in September 2014, told Reuters he complained to the engineering association because he thought the regulator was not moving quickly enough to deal with the allegations.

The pipeline operator's safety practices previously came under scrutiny in 2012 over concerns raised by another former employee. These concerns prompted the NEB to modify a scheduled audit so that it could investigate the complaints. The audit, released in February 2014, confirmed some of those complaints and called on the company to address weaknesses in such areas as risk assessment, inspection and management review.

The probes also coincide with a parliamentary debate on new pipeline safety legislation, in which the official opposition and environmental groups have criticized the regulator, saying it is too close to the industry it oversees.

APEGA, the self-regulatory professional group for Alberta engineers, said it normally refrained from commenting on ongoing investigations to protect the privacy of its members.   Continued...