Enbridge slammed for ‘Keystone Kops’ response to Michigan spill

Enbridge slammed for ‘Keystone Kops’ response to Michigan spill by Carrie Tait, July 10, 2012, The Globe and Mail
Enbridge Inc. has been slammed in a scathing review of its massive Michigan pipeline spill, with a U.S. watchdog saying the company acted like “the Keystone Kops” and ignored safety procedures while suffering “pervasive organizational failures.” … “Learning about Enbridge’s poor handling of the rupture, you can’t help but think of the Keystone Kops,” Deborah Hersman, NTSB’s chair, said in her opening remarks at Tuesday’s hearing. “Why didn’t they recognize what was happening? What took so long?” … “Enbridge believes that at the time of the accident it met or exceeded all applicable regulatory and industry standards in its operations,” the company said in a statement. In its report, the NTSB said that not only was Enbridge’s response to the spill slow, but the Calgary-based company knew at least five years before the massive leak that the pipeline was corroded and cracked. External corrosion and cracking caused the 471-kilometre pipeline to rupture, the NTSB said. Roughly 15,000 defects were identified in a 2005 report, a presenter at the hearing said. … David Mayer, a managing director at the NTSB, who delivered part of the NTSB’s findings, said “pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge” added to the company’s slow response and prolonged spill. Enbridge staff twice pumped more crude – about 81 per cent of the total release – after the pipeline ruptured, Ms. Hersman said.

The NTSB’s five-member panel argued industry regulators are also at fault. “Delegating too much authority to the regulated [companies] to assess their own system risks and correct them is tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house,” Ms. Hersman said in her closing comments. “Regulators need regulations and practices with teeth – and the resources to enable them to take corrective action before a spill, not after.” [Emphasis added]

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