MP, Enbridge respond to National Transportation Safety Board report on Michigan spill

The National Transportation Safety Board took direct aim at Enbridge and its procedures in a report on a 2010 Michigan oil spill.

The National Transportation Safety Board released its report on the oil spill from and Enbridge pipeline in Michigan in 2010, and it takes direct aim at the company and its procedures.

Enbridge’s failure to exercise effective oversight of pipeline integrity and control center operations, implement an effective public awareness program, and implement an adequate post-accident response were organizational failures that resulted in the accident and increased its severity,” read the report, posted on July 10.

The rupture and prolonged release were made possible by pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge Incorporated.”

In particular, the report says the “ineffective performance of control center staff led them to misinterpret the rupture as a column separation, which led them to attempt two subsequent start-ups of the line”, that “Enbridge’s control center staff placed a greater emphasis on the Material Balance System’s analyst’s flawed interpretation of the leak detection system’s alarms than it did on reliable indications of a leak, such as zero pressure, despite known limitations of the leak detection system” and that “although Enbridge had procedures that required a pipeline shutdown after 10 minutes of uncertain operational status, Enbridge control center staff had developed a culture that accepted not adhering to the procedures”.

Despite the report, Enbridge said those involved were doing what they could and that the company has learned from the spill.

We believe that the experienced personnel involved in the decisions made at the time of the release were trying to do the right thing. As with most such incidents, a series of unfortunate events and circumstances resulted in an outcome no one wanted,” said Mr. Daniel.

Safety has always been core to our operations. Our intent from the beginning of this incident has been to learn from it so we can prevent it from happening again, and to also share what we have learned with other pipeline operators. Enbridge and Enbridge Energy Partners conducted a detailed internal investigation of this incident in the months following the release and have made numerous enhancements to their processes, procedures and training as a result of the findings of the investigation, including in the control center. Incident prevention, detection and response have also been enhanced. We will carefully examine the findings in the NTSB report to determine whether any further adjustments are appropriate,” added Stephen J. Wuori, President, Liquids Pipelines, Enbridge Inc.

However, Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said the report shows Enbridge cannot be trusted to safely operate the Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat.

The findings are actually worse than we feared,” he said.

They are a body blow of breathtaking proportions to Enbridge and yet another wake-up call to the Northwest of the dangers of allowing big oil to run a pipeline through our Northwest watersheds