Scathing U.S. report missing from Northern Gateway hearings
A scathing U.S. government report on the 2010 Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, Mich., has yet to be entered as evidence into the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings, a B.C. economist says.
In an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House, independent economist Robyn Allan told guest host Louise Elliott that while the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report was published in July, "Enbridge hasn't tabled any information, at all, about the spill."
Allan says that Enbridge is underestimating the risks posed by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline because the company's risk assessment excludes the Kalamazoo spill.
"So far, it's as if Kalamazoo never happened," Allan said.
A ruptured Enbridge pipeline leaked an estimated 877,000 gallons (3.3 million litres) of oil into the Kalamazoo river on July 25, 2010, coating wildlife like birds and fish.
The NTSB report concluded there was a "complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge" and that employees at Enbridge acted like "Keystone Kops," failing to recognize that the pipeline had ruptured and continuing to pump oil into the surrounding area.
The cleanup costs have been estimated by Enbridge and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at $800 million U.S., making it the single most expensive on-shore spill in U.S. history according to the NTSB.
When asked about his concerns with the U.S. report, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver told The House he had spoken to Gaétan Caron, the Chair of Canada's National Energy Board (NEB), and they agreed this was an issue that "we have to learn from."
"There obviously also has to be a management culture of safety and it has to permeate the organization."
"We feel that the company [Enbridge] has to focus on some of these management issues and the NEB which has direct oversight responsibility is very much attuned to that and is going to pursue it in an objective, independent, and scientific way," Oliver said.
However, when asked whether the U.S. report should be submitted as evidence into the Joint Review Panel looking into the proposed Northern Gateway hearings, Oliver said he could not comment on that.
"I don't want to in any way get into the specifics of what the panel is looking at. First of all, it's inappropriate and it's also a slippery slope. I think it's up to the NEB, to the chair who oversees it, and to the panel to make these decisions."