Processing Magazine

Report critiques Enbridge safety practices

August 26, 2013

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Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. may be overestimating the improvements it has made to its safety practices and may be exaggerating its statements about the advanced inspection procedures it adopted after the serious 2010 incident in Michigan, a new report submitted to the Canadian National Energy Board and the U.S. Department of State claims.

Author of the report, Richard Kuprewicz, adviser to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, stated that Enbridge has "a culture where safety management seems not to be a critical component of their operation," suggesting that the company had still not fully addressed all issues that regulators had instructed it to deal with in the aftermath of the Michigan pipeline rupture.

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Kuprewicz recommended that the Energy Board order the company to take immediate measures to improve its policies on leak detection and emergency response practices. The report asked regulators to instruct Enbridge to carry out a hydrotest -- a costly procedure that requires the closedown of a pipeline before filling it with highly pressurized water that exposes cracks and holes in the pipes.

Conclusions in the report were based on various documents that the Energy Board received from Enbridge Inc. and on documents published after the Michigan incident, which is regarded as the largest inland oil spill ever to occur in North America, Kuprewicz explained.