Monday, August 2, 2010

Enbridge has history of citations for safety violations, oil spills

WASHINGTON – The Enbridge Energy Partners LP subsidiary of Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. involved in a massive crude oil spill in Michigan is among various Enbridge companies with questionable safety records.
Enbridge or its affiliates have been cited for 30 enforcement actions since 2002 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the U.S. Department of Transportation's regulatory arm.
In a warning letter sent Jan. 21, the agency told the company it may have violated safety codes by improperly monitoring corrosion in the pipeline responsible for the massive Michigan spill on July 25-26 in Talmadge Creek, a waterway in Calhoun County's Marshall Township that flows into the Kalamazoo River.
A May 2010 report by the Polaris Institute, drawing on government and Enbridge data, identified 49 “significant incidents” on the company’s pipelines between 1999 and 2009. The accidents, in total, resulted in three worker deaths, 26,000 barrels (more than one million gallons) of oil and other materials spilled, and more than $30 million in property damage.
Between 1999 and 2008, according to the Polaris Institute, Enbridge recorded 610 spills in the U.S. and Canada that released 132,000 barrels of hydrocarbons into farms, wetlands and waterways on the continent. According to the Polaris Institute, this volume of crude "amounts to approximately half of the oil that spilled from the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez after it struck a rock in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1988."
Minnesota was the state with the largest number of these incident (18), including a 2002 spill that leaked more than 250,000 gallons of oil into a marsh near the town of Cohasset, previously the company’s largest U.S. spill. Eleven of the 57 significant oil pipeline spills in Minnesota since 2002 were the fault of Enbridge.
Among the most serious accidents, Enbridge was cited when two contractor employees were killed while repairing an Enbridge crude line in Minnesota.
Between 1999 and 2008, Enbridge acknowledges in it own Corporate Responsibility Report, there were 610 spills on the company’s pipeline network, releasing 5.5 million gallons of oil and gas into the environment.
The most recent accident in Michigan involves about a million gallons of crude oil spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River following rupture of the company’s No. 6B mainline from the Chicago area to Sarnia, Ontario.
According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, around 8,000 gross barrels of oil were spilled by Enbridge since 2002. Property damage for all 57 spills statewide surpasses $36 million.
Enbridge Inc. and its subsidiaries have been cited several times in recent years for violations in the Great Lakes region.
Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners LP and Enbridge (U.S.) Inc. operate Enbridge liquids pipelines in the Great Lakes region. Assets include the Lakehead System, Midcontinent System and North Dakota System. The pipeline involved in the Michigan rupture is part of the Lakehead System. Total deliveries on the Lakehead System, according to the Enbridge Partners Web site, averaged 1.62 million b/d in 2008, meeting approximately 72 percent of Minnesota refinery capacity; 64 percent of the greater Chicago area; and 68 percent of Ontario's refinery demand.
Houston-based Enbridge Energy Partners spilled almost 19,000 gallons of crude oil onto Wisconsin's Nemadji River in 2003. Another 189,000 gallons of oil spilled at the company's terminal two miles from Lake Superior, though most was contained.
In 2007, two spills released about 200,000 gallons of crude in northern Wisconsin as Enbridge was expanding a 320-mile pipeline. The company also was accused of violating Wisconsin permits designed to protect water quality during work in and around wetlands, rivers and streams, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said. The violations came during construction of a 321-mile, $2 billion oil pipeline across that state. Enbridge agreed to pay $1.1 million in 2009.
The Michigan leak came from a 30-inch pipeline, which was built in 1969 and carries about eight million gallons of oil daily from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

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