Enbridge Earns Rare Slap From Regulators

Oil from a failed Enbridge pipeline fouls the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
On Thursday, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a rarely used corrective action order (CAO) to Enbridge, owner of the Lakehead pipeline system. This order is in response to yet another pipeline disaster, which dumped over 50,000 gallons of oil into the environment in Grand Marsh, Wis., last week. In addition, earlier this week Enbridge also had a valve failure on Line 5 during hydro-testing, as they gear up to expand the line.

In the order, PHMSA explains continuing to operate the line is a hazard to “life, health and property.”

As noted in a recent report released by NWF, this latest spill is merely one of hundreds for Enbridge. Far more worrisome, regulators are allowing Enbridge to continue to move forward with plans to expand this very system even as it fails to maintain current capacity safely. In addition to this most recent CAO by PHMSA, NWF is urging U.S. regulators, and the Michigan Public Service Commission, to table all expansion plans by Enbridge. U.S. Regulations also need to implement all recommendations outlined in the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) report of the Marshall, Mich. 2010 disaster.

“Shame on us if we allow Enbridge to supersize their pipelines when the company shows a steady disregard to our communities, resources and wildlife,” explains Beth Wallace, Great Lakes outreach advisor with the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s vital regulators respond in proportion to the threat.  Let’s not kid ourselves. PHMSA made a start this week, but there is much more that must be done to stop the spills.”


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Published: August 3, 2012