Enbridge will be making changes to attempt to make the proposed Northern Gateway Project safer, and allay opponents’ concerns.
In response to concerns resulting from a recently released report on the Line 6B spill into the Kalamazoo River near Marshal, Michigan in 2010 and comments made to the review panel in community hearings.
The National Transportation Safety Board report on the Michigan spill resulted in openly critical comments by Premier Christy Clark. The report was highly critical of many of Enbridge’s actions leading up to and during the spill, taking 17 hours to shut down the line despite alarms in the control room in Edmonton.
Maintenance on the line was also called into question in the report and critical of both Enbridge and regulators for not following up to ensure repairs were undertaken after inspections showed corrosion and cracking five years before the line break.
In this latest announcement, Enbridge is hoping to allay fears the same could happen in British Columbia or Alberta, where the company hopes to build a twin pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat, on the B.C. coast.
“We recognize that there are concerns among Aboriginal groups and the public around pipeline safety and integrity. We had already planned to build a state-of-the-art project, using the most advanced technology, safety measures and procedures in the industry today,” said Janet Holder, Executive Vice President, Western Access, Enbridge Inc. “With these enhanced measures, we will make what is already a very safe project even safer in order to provide further comfort to people who are concerned about the safety of sensitive habitats in remote areas.”
The extra measures the company said it will implement include:
- Increasing pipeline wall thickness of the oil pipeline
- Additional pipeline wall thickness for water crossings such as major tributaries to the Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat Rivers
- Increasing the number of remotely-operated isolation valves. This would increase the number of isolation valves in BC by 50%
- Increasing frequency of in-line inspection surveys across entire pipeline system by a minimum 50% over and above current standards
- Installing dual leak detection systems
- Staff pump stations in remote locations on a 24/7 basis for on-site monitoring, heightened security, and rapid response to abnormal conditions
Enbridge expects these extra measures will carry an additional cost of approximately $400 million – $500 million.