NTSB Finds Fault With Enbridge for 2010 Michigan Pipeline Spill
First Published Tuesday, 10th July 2012 05:23 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones
By Edward Welsch
Pipeline company Enbridge Inc. (ENB) was at fault for not adequately training its staff to respond to a 2010 spill of nearly 20,000 barrels of oil in Michigan, the U.S.'s lead transportation regulator said Tuesday.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board also found fault with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - the U.S. pipeline regulator - for not policing pipeline safety aggressively enough, as well as with Marshall, Michigan firefighters for mistakes in responding to the spill.
The board recommended 19 new regulations to pipeline safety and spill response in the U.S.
Calgary-based Enbridge acted like "Keystone Cops," making "multiple mistakes and missteps" in its response to the spill, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said in remarks broadcast over the Internet.
In July 2010, Enbridge spilled nearly 20,000 barrels of oil from its Line 6B pipeline in Michigan, which flowed into a nearby creek and then into Michigan's major waterway, the Kalamazoo River. It was one of the worst oil spills ever in the U.S. Midwest, which is a crossroads for pipelines carrying oil from producers in Canada.
The board investigation, released Tuesday, found that staff in Enbridge's control room failed to recognize the spill, leading them to try to restart the pipeline twice, which increased the amount spilled.
Local firefighters also didn't immediately contact Enbridge when they detected the spill, which would have reduced the amount spilled, the NTSB said. However, they also laid part of the blame for that on Enbridge, saying it should have trained local first responders on how to deal with pipeline spills.
PHMSA, in charge of pipeline safety, also failed to follow up on signs of corrosion cracking in the Line 6B pipeline that they found in previous investigations, the board said.
An Enbridge representative wasn't immediately available to comment. In a statement on its website, Enbridge said it has "already implemented, in 2010 and 2011, appropriate operational and procedural changes based on our own internal investigation," and said it would review the NTSB's findings to see whether any other changes would be appropriate.
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