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Energy regulator issues fine in wake of B.C. pipeline explosion

Energy regulator issues fine in wake of B.C. pipeline explosion

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) has released full details of the $40,000 Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) issued to Westcoast Energy Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. that operates as Spectra Energy Transmission) following the 30-day review period. 

Westcoast received the penalty for failing to conduct an in-line inspection of its 36 inch natural gas transmission line within the allowable interval specified by its integrity management program. The Notice of Violation (NOV) was issued under subsection 4(2) of the Onshore Pipeline Regulations. 

On October 9, 2018, a rupture and subsequent fire occurred on Westcoast's 36 inch pipeline, 13 km northeast of Prince George, B.C. The CER sent staff to the incident site and participated in the emergency response. To ensure immediate safety, an Inspection Officer Order was issued to Westcoast to limit the operating pressure of segments of the 36 inch line and the company's parallel 30 inch pipeline. The CER then conducted regulatory oversight activities and an investigation to find out if additional enforcement measures were needed. The CER found that Westcoast did not follow its integrity management program for stress corrosion cracking and inspection practices and that had Westcoast done so, the pipeline defect could have been detected to avoid the rupture. 

The Transportation Safety Board conducted an incident investigation into the rupture and released its report on March 4, 2020. This report indicated the rupture originated at stress corrosion cracks on the outside surface of the pipeline. 

Following the incident, Westcoast took a number of steps to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. This included shortening the in-line inspection interval for its 36 inch pipeline and implementing numerous organizational changes to address integrity management practices. 

Preventing harm is the foundation of how we keep people safe and protect the environment. We expect companies to adopt new technologies and innovative approaches to improve their management systems to keep accidents from happening in the first place. The CER does not hesitate to take enforcement action if required and we do so is in a way that is fair and transparent. 

Quick Facts

  • An AMP is a financial penalty imposed on companies or individuals for not following certain CER requirements intended to keep people safe or protect the environment. 
  • Inspection Officer Order NB-001-2018, as amended, was issued to Westcoast at the time of the incident to limit the operating pressure on the 36 pipeline, between station 2 to the Huntingdon meter station, and on the 30 inch pipeline, segment 4AL1 (between Compressor Station 4A and Compressor Station 4B). Both Westcoast pipelines were back to normal operations by November 2019. 
  • NOVs and subsequent AMPs can take anywhere from two months up to two years to complete, depending on the complexity of the violation. Legislation allows an AMP to be issued within two years of the event. 
  • This is the second AMP the CER has issued in 2020. In June 2020, the CER issued an AMP to Trans Northern Pipeline Inc. for failing to conduct maintenance work safely

Company info

Suite 210, 517 Tenth Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
CA, T2R 0A8

Website:
cer-rec.gc.ca/cntcts/index-eng.html

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