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Whistleblower forced investigation of TransCanada Pipelines

Charles Rusnell, Timothy Sawa and Joseph Loiero, CBC News
A former TransCanada engineer says he reported its substandard practices to the federal energy regulator because he believed the company’s management, right up to the chief executive officer, refused to act on his complaints.

In an exclusive television interview with CBC News, Evan Vokes said he raised concerns about the competency of some pipeline inspectors and the company’s lack of compliance with welding regulations set by the National Energy Board (NEB), the federal energy industry regulator…

Last Friday, the NEB issued a public letter to TransCanada. Without naming Vokes, it said "many of the allegations of regulatory non-compliance identified by the complainant were verified by TransCanada’s internal audit."

The NEB said it was “concerned by TransCanada’s non-compliance with NEB regulations, as well as its own internal management systems and procedures.”… (17 October 2012)

From an EB reader: I don’t know if this has hit your neck of the woods, but this needs a serious signal boost. It’s a CBC story, from a TransCanada welder turned metallurgical engineer, talking about how they don’t (or at least didn’t) follow standard pipeline safety practices (I am a hydrocarbon pipeline engineer with ten years experience).  Add a broken safety culture to the corrosive nature of tar sands oil, note that the original Keystone pipeline is shut in due to anomalies detected in a 2-3 year old pipeline, and it is abundantly clear that that the question is not if Keystone XL will spill, but when.

Aging Pipeline Poses Threat to Great Lakes, Report Says

Dan Frosch, New York Times
A report released on Thursday by the National Wildlife Federation questions the safety of a network of oil pipelines operated by Enbridge that run through the Great Lakes region.

The group contends that Enbridge’s pipelines in the area are especially susceptible to spills because of their age and the company’s recent history of accidents — creating a situation the environmental group said could be disastrous for the fragile ecosystems in Lake Michigan.

The report was prompted in part by Enbridge’s recent plans to expand its enormous Lakehead System of pipelines, which carry oil and other products from Canada to the United States. In particular, the environmental group focused on Enbridge’s Line 5, which cuts across the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron, and whose pumping capacity the company wants to increase by 50,000 barrels a day.
(18 October 2012)
Link to the report

Enbridge, B.C. pipeline spat gains new traction

Carrie Tait, Globe & Mail

The spat between Enbridge Inc. and British Columbia is escalating, with each side accusing the other of being out of line regarding discussions – or more precisely, the lack of discussions – over explosive issues tied to the controversial oil sands pipeline the province currently opposes…

B.C. is threatening to block Gateway if its demands, which range from financial compensation to spill response systems, are not met. Experts differ on whether B.C. has the power to block the pipeline, although the federal government is a vocal supporter of the project. The fresh round of political sparring over answers at the Joint Review Panel’s public hearings has heightened the tension between the two sides, and will further push the Gateway debate into the spotlight. If Gateway fails, oil produced in Canada could end up stranded on the continent, dragging down the price of that crude…
(18 October 2012)