How Canada’s pipeline watchdog secretly discusses “ticking time bombs” with industry

By Mike De Souza in News, Energy | July 5th 2016

Canada’s pipeline watchdog has given two of North America’s largest energy companies up to six months to fix what industry insiders have described as a series of “ticking time bombs.”

The National Energy Board waited eight years after U.S. regulators raised the alarm about substandard materials, finally issuing an emergency safety order in February. At least one Canadian pipeline with defective materials blew up during that period.

Newly-released federal documents show that Texas-based Kinder Morgan and Alberta-based Enbridge are both looking into the use of defective parts purchased from Thailand-based, Canadoil Asia, that recently went bankrupt. But the companies were not immediately able to say where they installed the dodgy parts. It’s a problem that also struck Alberta-based TransCanada, which had defective materials in its own pipelines, including one that blew up in 2013.

NEB finally orders safety review of substandard parts

Read more…

Coast Guard brass accused of lying about Kits base

Mike Cotter, the General Manager of the Jericho Sailing Centre, says James Moore and other BC Tory MPs are being fed misinformation from Coast Guard brass who say Kits Base wouldn’’t have been a factor in the English Bay fuel spill response.

“I know it to be absolutely false. I witnessed them responding to spills. I was familiarized with the environmental emergency response equipment they had. I was onboard their vessel. They had a dedicated pollution response vessel.”

Cotter says the logs and records from Kits Base should be made public.

“They will clearly show that, that vessel was based there. They will clearly show the crews had training. The ships logs will also show they responded to spills.”

Read more…

Kinder Morgan defends spill plan secrecy

Kinder Morgan Canada will provide details of its emergency response plans directly to governments and first responders, but on the condition the information be kept private, said company president Ian Anderson.

The National Energy Board (NEB) ruled that the company is not required to make the emergency plan for its Trans Mountain pipeline public as part of the review process for its expansion proposal.

The company has been roundly criticized by opponents of the project, including the City of Burnaby, for not releasing the plans already.

Anderson said in a conference call with media recently that the information will be provided outside the NEB process to those parties needing it. Those parties will also be consulted in the process to update the plan to reflect an expanded system.

“Clearly, our interest would be in dealing with municipalities and first responders to provide them the information they need in order to undertake their due diligence and their response capabilities as necessary,” Anderson said.

“And therefore they would have be, one, an affected community by our operations, two, they would have to agree to keep those plans private within their city or municipality and not post them publicly for the same reasons that we’re not posting those details publicly.”

Anderson was speaking in a conference call to announce the company has filed responses to the latest round of information requests from intervenors, 5,600 in all.

“This round, the requests that we got, we believe were more relevant than the first round and we made a lot of effort to provide complete responses to intervenors as appropriate,” he said. “Having said that, there will be some information requests that were not within the scope of the hearing and we have said as much in our responses.”

The latest round of questions brings the total of questions asked to over 16,000. If necessary, intervenors have an opportunity to appeal to the NEB to request that the company be more responsive to their inquiries, Anderson noted.

“I think what parties will find is that the responses this round are very full and very complete.”

Anderson noted that Kinder Morgan’s emergency response plans for Washington state were released publicly by that state’s department of ecology.

“That has caused a bit of confusion,” he said.

“I think I want to reinforce we in no way want to have this perceived lack of transparency around our emergency response plans as any indication of us wanting to hide anything or keep anything a secret.”

There are “very real security concerns” in making the plans public, particularly the locations of critical valves and access points.

The broader issue is a need for industry and the regulator in Canada to define “who should get what how and when and for what purpose?” Anderson explained.

Due to security issues in the U.S., the protocol around how such plans are released is already well established unlike in Canada, he said.

“Those bridges have been crossed down there more so than up here and we’re committed to ensuring it happens here as well.”

Kinder Morgan will lead an industry effort to ensure a similar protocol is set up on this side of the border “so the public can be comforted that there’s no secrets, that nothing’s being hidden but that security of the infrastructure and the public can still be maintained.”

Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Jane Shin, through whose riding the pipeline runs, doesn’t see the public having much comfort so far in the NEB process itself.

The B.C. New Democrats are calling on the province to undertake its own review process in addition to the federal one underway. The pipeline “does go through our parks, our schools and our residences … I think the province has a real right to say what makes sense for us.”

Shin agrees that there are security concerns about the release of all aspects of the emergency plan, but believes those are not details the public is necessarily seeking.

Instead, it’s “the reassurance and the social licence that the plan is acceptable and is done on sound evidence and it does protect the safety and the interests of our public,” Shin said.

Kinder Morgan is proposing to almost triple capacity of the pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby to allow for increased exports of oil sands crude to overseas markets.

On May 26, intervenors are scheduled to begin proving evidence and answer questions posed by the company. Oral arguments are scheduled for September and October. The NEB is expected to provide its recommendation to the federal government, which then will make a final decision within three months.

If the project is approved, Anderson said, construction would start in the summer of 2016 and the pipeline would be in service by September 2018.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

Kinder Morgan leaves half of Vancouver, Burnaby’s pipeline questions unanswered

Cities’ mayors call on National Energy Board to force pipeline company to address issues

Kinder Morgan has failed to answer almost half of the questions posed by the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby on the company’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion into B.C.
In a statement issued Friday, the City of Vancouver states that Kinder Morgan has failed to answer 291 of nearly 600 questions submitted by them through the National Energy Board (NEB), and 315 of the 688 questions submitted by Burnaby.

The more than 1200 questions submitted by the two municipalities covered a broad range of issues connected to Kinder Morgan’s 15,000-page proposal, including those covering job creation levels, climate change and emergency response plans.

“Because the city has very significant questions that focus on the hundreds of ways in which Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and tank farm would threaten our city and region’s safety, security and livability, we again asked Kinder Morgan to provide answers,” Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan said in the statement.

“Unfortunately – but not surprisingly – Kinder Morgan has again failed to show respect for our citizens’ questions by refusing to answer almost half.”

Redacted safety plan

Vancouver and Burnaby say they will continue to call on the NEB to force Kinder Morgan to address these outstanding issues.

Just last week, Kinder Morgan defended its decision to only provide a heavily redacted version of its emergency spill response plan.

The company is seeking approval from the NEB to nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline. The $5.4 billion project would twin the existing pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

The National Energy Board (NEB) ruled in favour of Kinder Morgan’s redacted plan in January.

“In this instance, the board is satisfied that sufficient information has been filed from the existing EMP [Emergency Management Plan] documents to meet the board’s requirements at this stage in the process,” the decision read.

At that time, Premier Christy Clark said Kinder Morgan hadn’t met the five conditions set out by the province, and until that happened, it wouldn’t be going ahead with the project.

Child Safety, Zoning By-laws and the Oil Industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Burnaby: December 31, 2012

Residents of Burnaby call on Mayor Derek Corrigan to scrap city by-laws that allow schools, daycares and residential developments to be built near refineries, oil tanks, substations and pipelines. The risk of leaks and spills of combustible oil and carcinogenic gases is unacceptable and should have never been allowed.

Elsie Dean of BROKE says, “We should not have to wait for a major catastrophe before we act. Schools and daycares should never have been built near oil facilities in the first place and we need to ensure that they never will again. Like gun control, we should be thinking about laws to protect children before a crisis occurs. Schools and housing developments must be protected from carcinogenic and combustible gases.”

The potential health risks to children in schools near or adjacent to oil pipelines is underlined by the tragedy in Fallon, Nevada. A lawsuit launched by a Nevada mother against Kinder Morgan alleges that the company failed to adequately monitor and repair a pipeline that was leaking jet fuel beneath a school playground and that the leak contributed to a cluster of childhood cancer cases at the school and the death of one child.

There are warnings about noxious gases strategically placed throughout the areas where tank farms, oil pipelines and substations have been allowed. Yet schools like Burnaby North Senior, and Forest Grove and Seaforth Elementary sit close to, or below, major oil facilities. Others like Stoney Creek and Lyndhurst Elementary and a YMCA childcare center sits just meters from both highly combustible jet fuel and heavy oil pipelines that carry a soup of toxic chemicals.

There have been major spills and leaks near these and other schools, daycares and residences throughout the years 2007 , 2008 , 2009 and 2010 . All have required an emergency response and evacuations, costing tax payers thousands of dollars. In January 2012, residences and a private school also had to be closed in Sumas.

Tax payers have always borne the costs associated with emergency response, including evacuations and medical care resulting from oil pipeline failure, oil spills and noxious gases from tank farms and substations.

Commenting on the cost to tax payers, Elsie Dean makes the point that “The companies that are found responsible for spills and oil pipeline ruptures should pay not only for clean up, but for all emergency response and medical care as well. The cost to tax payers of emergencies has not been factored into the expense of oil pipelines, tank farms, and sub-stations. Nor have the costs of routine air monitoring near the oil refinery on Burrard Inlet. When Kinder Morgan promises a few million in tax payments, it should be balanced against the hidden costs to tax payers of maintaining a huge oil infrastructure in Burnaby.”

In response to the concern about children’s health in schools and daycares near oil infrastructure, BROKE calls on all levels of government as well as the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to recommend that oil industries should not be zoned near schools, daycares and residences and that all measures must be employed to separate dangerous industries from homes and schools. Children’s safety should be the first priority for every level of government.

– 30 –

For more information please email info@brokepipelinewatch.ca

1. The Burnaby Teacher’s Association has already passed a resolution on December 4, 2012 to demand the Burnaby school district monitor oil pipelines for leaks and develop comprehensive evacuations plans for schools near tank farms, refineries and substations.
2. Kinder Morgan plead guilty to negligence in the 2007 pipeline rupture and found negligent by the National Energy Board in the 2012 incident.
3. http://www.mynews4.com/news/local/story/fallon-cancer-cluster/–P1ofP56UqVNbV3tPtJDg.cspx

Washington State can view spill-response plans for pipeline that B.C. cannot

Washington State has documents outlining emergency response plans for a Kinder Morgan pipeline –plans similar to those British Columbians have been told by Canada’’s National Energy Board they’’re not allowed to see due to security concerns.

The B.C. government lost a battle with the National Energy Board in January to have greater access to Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline emergency response plan (ERP). Kinder Morgan had already provided B.C. with a version of the plan, but significant portions were blacked out.

The denied information included specific response times, valve locations, and evacuation zone maps. The government had argued it needed the entire plan to be able to understand Kinder Morgan’’s ability to respond to an oil spill. The proposed $6.5-billion Trans Mountain expansion would twin the pipeline and triple the capacity for Alberta oil intended for Asian markets.

But in Washington State–where the pipeline would cross through to Puget Sound–Kinder Morgan has provided a more comprehensive response plan.

NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert wants to know why a similarly detailed plan isn’’t available for B.C. residents.

““We need to be able to get at least the information they are providing in Washington State,”” he said.

The U.S. plan includes information on response timelines, the availability of emergency equipment near specific pipeline sections, and a list of companies that could help out after an oil spill.

In one example, a company called BakerCorp is identified as being able to deliver “”21,000 gallon tanks to a spill site within 12 hours,”” and having enough pumps and hose to remove 6,300 gallons of oil per minute.

Yet in B.C., the energy board rejected B.C.’s demand for a complete response plan, citing sensitive information that could cause ““security concerns.””

A link to the Washington State ERP was available online recently at DeSmog Canada, but has since been deactivated by state officials.

The emergency plans were only to be online between Jan. 9 and Feb. 9 during a public consultation, said Scott Zimmerman from the Washington State Department of Ecology, but they were accidentally left up until Feb.18.

The U.S. plan details further information about “”unique”” sections of the pipeline. These include the location of shutoff valves, areas where the pipeline crosses water, peak volumes, and the thickness of pipeline walls.

In the event of an emergency, 48-hour timelines are also presented for each section of the pipeline, with descriptions of the type of equipment and number of people needed–as well as how much oil could be recovered immediately after a spill.

On the Samish River – a location identified as “”Zone 3,”” about 40 kilometres south of Bellingham-Kinder Morgan, estimated it could have 18 people and 600 metres of containment boom available within two hours of a spill.

A spokesman with the B.C. Mines Ministry did not respond directly when asked for an opinion on the plan’’s availability in Washington State.

But the B.C. government has been aware since last year that a version of the plan was available to the Americans. B.C. argued in its motion to the NEB asking for the public release of the information that keeping it secret in B.C. is ““inexplicable.””

It “”calls into serious question the legitimacy of Trans Mountain’s claim,”” reads the B.C. government motion.

In the same motion, the province said history showed the possibility of a spill from Trans Mountain facilities.

“”The potential for devastating effects on the environment, human health, and local economies is irrefutable,”” it said.

In 2007, a spill released about 1,500 barrels of oil in a Burnaby neighbourhood, with 440 barrels flowing into the Burrard Inlet.

Despite Kinder ruling, NEB wants pipeline emergency response plans made public

The National Energy Board wants companies in Canada to make their emergency response plans public for existing pipelines, even though it has ruled Kinder Morgan can keep its plans secret from British Columbians.

“Our chairman is not very happy. Canadians deserve to have that information,” said Darin Barter, a spokesperson for the NEB.

“There’s a public will for that information, and industry needs to find a way to make it public.”

Companies are not required to disclose their emergency response plans under Canadian law. Barter said the board is not calling for a legislative change, but for a commitment from industry to be more transparent.

He said chairman Peter Watson sent a letter on Feb. 5 about the issue to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association. A spokesman for the association said it received the letter and will be discussing how to meet the NEB’s expectations.

But during a conference call on Feb. 20 Kinder Morgan maintained it is not required to release further details of its emergency response plan after the NEB agreed that sensitive security details could be at risk.

Details of the company’s spill response plan in Washington State have been publicly posted online.

The decision to keep the plans secret in B.C. has prompted the provincial government to call for more transparency around Kinder Morgan’’s ability to respond to a potential oil spill. The proposed $5.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion would twin the pipeline and triple the capacity for Alberta oil intended for Asian markets.

Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada, addressed the issue on Friday.

““National security and public safety reasons made it prudent to keep aspects of the plan confidential and private,”” he said.

But Green MLA Andrew Weaver thinks the company should fully disclose the details of its plans. Especially, he said, considering that Washington State–where sections of the Trans Mountain pipeline cross into–already has a much more detailed plan than B.C.

““I do not understand what the security element is,”” he said, “If it’s okay for the US to have the full version, I don’t know why B.C. can’t have it?””

Still, Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said security is a concern.

Information about valve locations and access points could fall into the hands of environmental extremists, who could potentially use it for sabotage, he said. He believes the The NEB was right to keep aspects of the emergency plan a secret.

Acts of sabotage have occurred in the past, said Mr. Juneau-Katsua, citing incidents like the 2008 bombings that targeted gas pipelines near Dawson Creek, B.C.

“If someone lost their life because an extremist wanted to demonstrate against a pipeline–that would be absolutely unacceptable,”” he said.

Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, who works with the Washington State Department of Ecology, said that state officials discussed the security concerns associated with publicly available plans, but ultimately ruled on the side of transparency.

“Pipeline advocates hold us up as an example that others should follow,”” she said, “”but industry gets uncomfortable with the level of information we make available.””

Mr. Juneau-Katsuya, who believes pipelines do pose security concerns, was shocked to hear that Washington State makes their plans public.

““I’’m very surprised,”” he said, ““They might actually expose themselves as a target.””

The NEB will make a decision next January about whether the Trans Mountain pipeline should be approved. The federal government will then make a final decision approximately three months after.

With a report from The Canadian Press

BP’’s missing oil is found–where else?–on the bottom of the Gulf

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, some of the estimated 200 million gallons of oil that spilled were never recovered. They were missing. Now researchers have found some of them: A good 10 million gallons are sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

A new study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, hypothesizes that about 5 percent of oil from the spill made it to the seafloor. A separate study in October put that number at about 10 percent. ““Our number is a little bit more conservative than theirs,”” said Jeff Chanton, lead author of the new study, “but “if the two approaches agree within a factor of two, that’’s pretty good for estimating all of the oil on the seafloor.”” Basically, a lot of oil is down there.

And that oil can cause a lot of problems. Because there’’s less oxygen deeper in the Gulf, it will take more time to decompose. And the oil can lead to tumors and lesions in sea animals, the researchers found.

““Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’’s a conduit for contamination into the food web,”” Chanton said. “”This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come.””

The findings come as BP continues trying to weasel its way out of paying fines and reparations for the spill. Reuters reports that the company is pushing back against a multi-billion-dollar government fine under the Clean Water Act:

In arguments that wrapped up on Monday, BP tried to whittle away at $13.7 billion in potential fines if faces under the Clean Water Act for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history.

BP has said its fine should be modest, as it took extensive steps to mitigate the disaster, and that the defendant named in the case, BP’’s exploration and production unit, known as BPXP, cannot afford a big penalty.

And the Associated Press reports that the company is still seeking to challenge the way in which businesses affected by the spill are compensated — by attacking the man in charge of distributing the funds.

BP says the claims administrator, Patrick Juneau, failed to disclose that he worked on previous oil spill litigation for the state of Louisiana when he was hired to oversee settlement payouts.

Attorneys for Juneau told the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he hid nothing improper and his record of work for the state was public well before BP and others agreed to his hiring in 2012.

All sides hailed the settlement when it was approved in 2012. But BP later argued that Juneau was misinterpreting the settlement and paying claims to businesses that didn’’t deserve them.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier and the 5th Circuit ruled that, under the settlement BP agreed to, businesses do not have to prove they were directly harmed by the spill to collect money–only that they made less money in the three to eight months after the spill.

In case you weren’’t feeling sorry enough for BP already, today also brings news that the company’’s profits and share price are both down because of low oil prices. Cue the tiny violins.

Oil pipeline shut down as second leak in as many weeks plagues Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain near Hope

HOPE, B.C. — As one Kinder Morgan crew worked on stemming an oil leak from its Trans Mountain pipeline in British Columbia on Thursday, another worked on winning over the province’s reluctant public for a major expansion of the line.

It was the second time in as many weeks the company was forced to shut down the only pipeline linking the Alberta oilfields with a West Coast shipping port because of a leak, this one about 40 kilometres east of Hope.

While the company held another of its open houses in Burnaby Thursday night to elicit feedback on the proposed route of the new pipeline, across town, roughly 50 people opposed to the expansion gathered at a Burnaby’s McGill Library.

about five kilometres from the terminus of the existing pipeline, to ask New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart what they could do to stop it.

“People are getting more and more entrenched against it, so now you’re getting fewer questions and more definite ‘nos,’”Stewart said after the meeting.

Electrical engineer Kei Esmaeilpour said he is opposed to the expansion because it is not in Canada’s national interest to export products like bitumen, which have no value added.

“I am not as environmentalist as maybe the others are, I am more in favour of the economic development,” Esmaeilpour said.

Greg Toth, senior project director for the Trans Mountain expansion said after the spill, “We have, really, a culture of zero tolerance. Our focus, our job, is to keep the oil in the pipe.”

The company was alerted to an “anomaly” in the line and sent a crew to the area Wednesday. That crew discovered oil on the ground and the line was shut down.

A 15-member crew worked through the night, and Kinder Morgan said Thursday that between 20 and 25 barrels of oil spilled, or up to 4,000 litres. Two weeks prior, several barrels of oil seeped from a crack in the line near Merritt.

“We’re disappointed that it happened but I think you can point to the fact that both of these leaks were found as part of our ongoing integrity program work. We were there on the right-of-way to dig up these features and it’s unfortunate that they began to leak before we got there,” said Mike Davis, the senior director of marine development for the expansion project. Repairs were underway on the latest leak Thursday, and a National Energy Board emergency response team was on site to monitor the repair and cleanup of the rural site, about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver. There was no sign of contamination to the nearby Coquihalla River, which the company continues to monitor, and there were no homes near the spill, according to agency spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor.

The energy watchdog said its investigators will look at whether the two incidents are isolated or similar in nature. Taylor said the board could not yet confirm the company’s estimated release volume, but said 80 cubic metres of contaminated soil was removed.

Pipelines and the oil tankers that go with them have been a hot-button topic in B.C., and Toth said they have been recurring themes in the 37 public meetings his team has hosted in communities all along the would-be route.

Resolutions have been passed opposing the expansion by the city councils of Vancouver and Burnaby, where a 2007 construction accident rained down 230,000 litres of oil on a neighbourhood near Kinder Morgan’s Burrard Inlet terminal.

The cleanup cost roughly $15 million, including the 70,000 litres that flowed into the inlet, and 250 residents were temporarily evacuated.

Retired elementary teacher Mary Hatch was one of them. The 66-year-old is now one of the forces behind the grassroots organization Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan’s Expansion (BROKE) that hosted Stewart Thursday night.

As BROKE’s first anniversary approaches, “our main outlook, our main opinions, haven’t really changed, we just have more concerns,” Hatch said Thursday.

Their say their opposition to the project has hardened in spite of the Trans Mountain team’s local, community-by-community approach touted by Davis.

“We’ve been here for 60 years, so I think we really do understand the political culture here in B.C.,” Davis said.

The proposed route will stray significantly from the existing line because of the amount of development that has occurred since the original pipeline was constructed in 1953. The company will attempt to avoid private land, routing the line along abandoned railway lines if possible.

Essentially, the existing 1,150-kilometre line will remain in place, carrying refined products, synthetic and light crude. The “expansion” involves 980 kilometres of new line that will carry heavy oil, or diluted bitumen, as much as possible of it laid in the ground beside the current line.

The capacity will increase from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Andy Galarnyk said the exact cause of the leak has yet to be determined, but the company’s own investigation and repairs were already underway.

“As soon as we can get it repaired, and have discussions with the board on that, we’ll try to get this line up and running.”

With a file from Mike Hager, Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy/pipeline+shut+down+second+leak+month+plagues+Kinder/8586524/story.html?__lsa=361b-2d5d#ixzz2Xe1hwwR6