Canada regulator says Enbridge safely operating pipelines, despite violations

Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:41pm EDT
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By Mike De Souza

CALGARY, July 15 (Reuters) - Canada's energy regulator has concluded that Alberta-based Enbridge Inc is operating safely, despite finding the pipeline operator had violated rules designed to identify threats to the public and protect whistleblowers.

The National Energy Board (NEB) released the findings on Wednesday in a comprehensive audit that examined six areas of Enbridge's operations over a 15-month period, including its safety oversight, emergency planning and environmental practices.

The findings are part of a routine set of company audits conducted annually by the regulator.

Enbridge has faced opposition from environmental groups over key projects such as its Line 9 reversal and the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. The projects would send crude oil to eastern Canada and the Pacific coast, opening up new markets for Alberta oil producers beyond the United States.

The board ordered the company to adopt new safety conditions for the Sarnia to Montreal 300,000 barrel per day Line 9 reversal project in June, noting at the time that the pipeline was getting more scrutiny because of public concerns about a potential spill.

The new audit, which Enbridge received on March 31, was based on a review of more than 65,000 pages of records, eight weeks of interviews, and more than three dozen field inspections, a board spokesman said.

"It is the board's view that Enbridge has the opportunity to significantly enhance its approach to safety performance and safety culture," wrote the regulator's secretary, Sheri Young, in a newly-released letter to Enbridge that accompanied the audit.

The report found that Enbridge had failed to introduce an explicit policy to encourage employees to identify hazards, incidents and near-misses, including rules to ensure that whisteblowers would not be punished. It also found that Enbridge had not completely implemented practices for identifying all hazards and risks.   Continued...