Listening is the key

The best effort must be put forward when building systems that may affect the Canadian public.

Dear Sir:

The first obvious step in pipeline planning, design and engineering is to minimize the probability of pipeline and facilities failures.

A corporate technical officer who must have direct access to the board should be responsible to keep the corporation informed about international progress in similar facilities and operational practices.

The officer would also advise the board about areas of concern within the physical plant and counsel how and when to take corrective action.

The officer and staff would sit on national and international committees during development of engineering codes and standards, government regulations and specialty groups involved with operations training and safety practices, etc.

This would be the first step in ensuring that an operation can minimize the probability of a failure by keeping your key operations personnel involved as participants and leaders in all the developmental fields of the business.

Outside consultants can help. However a corporation’s owned trained people would be the first to know about the areas of concern and it’s certain that areas of concern would be discovered and soon at that.

So train, develop, and listen to and hear the message from people such as the technology officer and initiate appropriate, timely action.

Think of Enbridge’s Michigan/Kalamazoo oil pipeline mess, the BP Gulf of Mexico nightmare, the Ocean Ranger oil platform loss, the Exxon Valdez calamity, the space shuttle Challenger disaster, the Walkerton E-Coli fiasco, the Ford Pinto bean counter exercise, etc.

A question goes begging. Was there a corporate technical officer present in these disaster situations and if so did anyone pay any attention to the officer’s recommendations?

A board’s delaying of action can be the most costly action, as it were.

Will Enbridge survive this Kalamazoo nightmare?

I’m hoping to see an operation’s safety epiphany by the Enbridge board.

I am hopeful that the National Energy Board will retain the highest level of expertise to cross examine the Enbridge team.

Let the public hear and decide if Enbridge, the energy board and politicians have received our message.

Finally we should see a National Energy Board report convincing us that this pipeline meets all reasonable expectations.

Transcripts of board proceedings are typically available daily, so we nervous folks can observe unfiltered information about how the hearings are progressing.

The bottom line is we all want to see a best effort as a minimum requirement when building systems that may affect the Canadian public.

Then the Enbridge board will be judged on their decision (was their decision reasonable or lacking and was there reasonable amount of time and resources put into arriving at that decision.)

This seems fair enough. The obvious and desired result would be that better operating decisions would be expected with minimum failures.

Carl Shalansky, North Vancouver, B.C.