Enbridge handled oil spill like ‘Keystone Cops’: safety board

Tuesday Jul 10, 2012

The following story is excerpted from the Toronto Star:

WASHINGTON — A “tragic and needless” 2010 pipeline rupture in Michigan became exponentially worse after an astonishing 17-hour delay to stop the flow of oil, raising concerns about proposed pipelines from Keystone XL to the Northern Gateway.

Canada’s Enbridge Inc. was in the hot seat Tuesday as regulators in Washington delivered a withering broadside, warning that disasters like the oil spill in the Kalamazoo River will continue until the pipeline industry pursues safety “with the same vigour as they pursue profits.”

Environmental groups on both sides of the border seized upon the findings, calling the report a watershed moment in their efforts to limit wholesale expansion of Alberta oilsands.

Likening the Calgary company’s management of the disaster to the “Keystone Cops,” National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman said Enbridge failed to adequately address well-known corrosion problems as far back as 2005.

[…] In a statement Tuesday, Enbridge stressed it has “taken full responsibility for the incident since the beginning” and has already implemented a range of “incremental improvements aimed at preventing a similar accident from happening again in future.”

...“Safety has always been core to our operations,” Enbridge said.

But the excoriating tone of the NTSB hearing in Washington left critics riddled with doubt.

“How can we trust Enbridge to build two pipelines safely across nearly 800 rivers and streams in Alberta and British Columbia?” said Nikki Skuce, senior energy campaigner with ForestEthics [in a statement].

“Enbridge has the audacity to tell us that our coast will be safer with their oil supertankers travelling the treacherous waters off the northwest coast — this from a company who can’t even turn off a pipeline for 17 hours after an alarm goes off,” said Skuce.

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