Greenpeace says company puts profit before safety
By Beacon staff
Calgary-based Enbridge has been hit with a record fine for a 2010 Michigan oil spill, which a leading environmental organization says is proof Canadians shouldn’t believe its claims about the safety of a proposed pipeline for northern BC.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a record $3.7 million civil penalty and 24 enforcement actions against Enbridge Energy for the July 25, 2010, crude oil spill near Marshall, Michigan.
The agency’s investigation found multiple violations of its hazardous liquid pipeline safety regulations related to integrity maintenance, failure to follow operation and management procedures, and reporting and operator qualification requirements.
“We will hold pipeline operators accountable if they do not follow proper safety procedures to protect the environment and local communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Enbridge’s Line 6B ruptured on the evening of July 25, 2010, while the pipeline was in the process of a scheduled shutdown. Despite control center alarms, there were several attempts to restart the line, resulting in more pressure that expelled more oil.
On July 26, a local natural gas company employee notified the Enbridge control center about the spill. By that time, more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil had been spilled.
The agency issued its notice and proposed civil penalty to Enbridge in a Notice of Probable Violation, and gives Enbridge 30 days to respond.
“Enbridge appreciates the hard work and due diligence that PHMSA has put into this investigation,” said Enbridge Inc. Liquids Pipelines President Stephen J. Wuori. “Safety has always been core to our operations.
“Enbridge completed a detailed internal investigation of this incident in the fall of 2010 and has made numerous enhancements to the processes and procedures in our control center since the Line 6B accident, including the training provided to pipeline operators, and has made significant changes in this critical component of our operations,” said Wuori.
“Incident prevention, detection and response have also been enhanced. We will carefully examine the NOPV to determine whether any further adjustments are appropriate.”
Enbridge worked closely with the agency and the National Transportation Safety Board throughout the investigation of the 2010 Michigan oil spill, and is now reviewing the notice in detail. The company will not comment specifically on the contents of the notice until it completes that analysis.
“The 2010 Michigan oil spill showed wide spread inadequacies in Enbridge staff, training, spill response and and clean-up,” said Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema. “Warning lights went off for over 17-hours.”
Hudema says that Enbridge staff showed indifference, repeatedly misdiagnosed the problem, meanwhile millions of gallons of tar sands crude poured into the Kalamazoo river.
“This isn’t a company that can be trusted to protect the last remaining intact temperate rainforest in the world, the over 100 streams and rivers the northern gateway would cross or a pristine BC coastline,” he said.
Greenpeace accused Enbridge of being more concerned about cutting costs than ensuring it had adequate and trained personal on hand.
“While that may be good for Enbridge’s shareholders it’s not for the community that is still dealing with the spills effects two years later,” said Hudema. ”We need to protect our communities, our environment and the west coast by listening to the over 100 First Nations that are saying NO to the Enbridge Northern Gateway.”