The business of pipeline safety
Linkedin

The business of pipeline safety

Ottawa : Canada | Oct 18, 2012 at 6:32 AM PDT
XX XX
Views: Pending
 

A whistleblower and former employee of TransCanada pipelines has raised safety concerns in the construction of pipelines. Evan Vokes, an engineer, reported the company's substandard practices to the National Energy Board. He believes the company's management refused to act on his complaints.

Vokes alleges that the company did not comply with the regulations set by the NEB. He says that some inspectors fail to comply with welding regulations. His allegations have resulted into an audit into the company's practices in regards to safety.

Of course TransCanada disputes this and says that it has addressed all these concerns and made necessary adjustments through routine quality-control processes well before any facilities went into service.

"We are confident that any remaining concerns the regulator has about compliance and pipeline safety will be unwarranted," TransCanada said in a statement.

Inspectors are normally hired by the prime contractor, in this case TransCanada. One has to question this practice. The NEB should in fact provide their own inspectors. While this may be an expensive venture, there could certainly be some cost sharing with the pipeline company. Having inspectors in the bag for the “pipeliner” seems a conflict of interest.

Modern pipeline technology is such that there should be minimum risks associated with pipelines. From the author's personal experience, care is taken in how the topsoil and subsequent soil compositions are removed and how the pipeline right of way is restored.

Following the safety regulations, which have been developed over decades of lessons learned, should be a common sense approach. While pipeline inspectors have often had a wealth of experience in the industry, hiring by contractors as a reward should be discouraged.

XL Keystone Pipeline

The XL Keystone pipeline, which was to transport oil from Hardesty, Alberta, to Port Arthur, Texas, has become an election issue. In the quest for energy independence, the Alberta Oil Sands play a central role. The US receives the oil at a discount, upgrades it and distributes it to North American and global markets. Very little of this oil is refined in Canada; even Alberta is a net importer.

Pipeline safety is obviously a major concern, especially in view of the approval process for the XL Keystone pipeline. President Obama rejected TransCanada's application, based on concerns over the sensitive Nebraska Sand Hills. An alternate route has recently been approved by Nebraska.

Pipelines crossing the international border require a "presidential permit." Politically, Republicans have made hay of the pipeline issue, alleging that the president's decision was political, in order to defer the decision until after the election.

The NEB decsision to do an audit of the company will not make the approval process any easier. Even though most believe that the pipeline will be approved, the issue will raise concerns among environmentalist, who are opposed to oil sands development. Nonetheless, this audit is both proper and necessary. Not following safety regulations, considering the inherent risks to the environment, cannot be tolerated.

Source: CBC

Disclaimer: The author supports Alberta Oil Sands development and pipelines as efficient means of tranporting oil.

1 of 1
Pipeline Construction
Pipeline Construction - Depicts top soil removal and laying out of pipe (Karl Gotthardt)
Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
Report Credibility
 
  • Clear
  • Share:
  • Share
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
  • Clear
 
 
 
Advertisement
 

News Stories

 
  • Alberta sets up environmental monitor for oil sands

      Turks and Caicos Free Press
    The Alberta government said on Wednesday it is creating a scientific agency to monitor the environmental impacts of oil sands production as the industry seeks to expand its markets into regions that are increasingly critical of the process. The body,...
  • TransCanada shuts Keystone after ‘small anomaly' found

      The Globe & Mail
    AP Video Energy Pipelines TransCanada wants to expand the Keystone network so oil sands crude can reach refineries on Texas' Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama last year delayed making a decision whether to approve the pipeline, and the company has...
  • Obama v Romney: Who's right on oil production?

      Seattle Post Intelligencer
    During a tense exchange on energy policy in Tuesday's presidential debate, Barack Obama insisted that domestic oil production is up under his watch...The president's right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land,...
  • TransCanada temporarily shuts Keystone pipeline

      Kansas City Star
    Layson says in an email that an agency inspector has been sent to review the test results, observe repairs and follow any necessary safety activities.She says TransCanada hasn't reported any leaks on the system.TransCanada spokesman Grady Semmens...
  • Markets watching Keystone pipeline closure

      United Press International
    An analyst said U.S. energy markets were taking a wait-and-see approach after a federal regulator ordered the closure of the Keystone oil pipeline...Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration was informed by TransCanada that the Keystone...
  • TransCanada temporarily shuts Keystone pipeline

    Mo.   A federal agency says TransCanada Corp. has temporarily shut down its existing Keystone pipeline after tests showed "possible safety issues." The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says TransCanada reported shutting down the...

Images

 >
 

More From Allvoices

Report Your News Got a similar story?
Add it to the network!

Or add related content to this report



Use of this site is governed by our Terms of Use Agreement and Privacy Policy.

© Allvoices, Inc. 2008-2014. All rights reserved. Powered by PulsePoint.