Enbridge alleged to have known for 5 years before the spill

10 Jul 2012

We’ve posted before about the Enbridge Spill, but now comes a report that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (which knows quite a bit about investigating disasters) has stated that Enbridge was aware of the flaw in the pipeline that ruptured for as long as five years before it broke and did nothing to repair it.

This comes on the heels of a letter from the NTSB assessing a $3.7 Million penalty alleging 24 different violations.  The letter includes the following somewhat damning statement:

“The pipeline failed despite a series of In-Line Inspections (ILI) that Enbridge had performed on the line in conjunction with the company’s Integrity Management Program (IMP). Multiple corrosion and crack-like anomalies on the pipe joint that failed on July 25, 2010, had been reported from the previous ILI runs, but Enbridge did not conduct any field examination of the reported anomalies prior to Accident.”

The NTSB chair opened the session talking about the “four Rs of a rupture.:” (1) Recognition – she said that Enbridge’s staff didn’t recognize the alarms for what they were; (2) Response –  she asserted that Enbridge’s response was inadequate, in part because its closest oil spill response contractor was more than 10 hours away; (3) Responsibility – and noted that Enbridge’s integrity management program failed to do anything with a detection of the very flaw that failed for 5 years.

Interestingly, she named the fourth R – Regulatory Oversight and said that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration was ineffective in overseeing Enbridge’s pipeline integrity management programs, control center procedures, and public awareness programs; and had inadequate review of oil spill response plans.

If the allegations of a 17 hour delay and knowledge of the defect since 2005 are true, this certainly does not bode well for Enbridge’s defenses.

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