Thursday, August 5, 2010

NTSB validates Enbridge account of oil spill in Michigan

DETROIT, Mich. - Preliminary investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board into Enbridge Energy Co. Inc.'s response to the rupture of one of its oil pipelines last week corroborate key components of the company's timeline of events.
Since the rupture of the line on either July 25 or July 26, the Calgary-based company has faced accusations that one of its employees was on the scene more than 12 hours before any action was taken. But officials with the NTSB said on Aug. 2 that their investigation showed none of the company's workers were there that evening.
Investigators also have established a preliminary timeline for the events as follows:
• 5:56 p.m. Sunday, July 25 - Enbridge controller at a remote location shuts down the flow in line 6b for regular maintenance to follow.
• 5:58 p.m. July 25 - Enbridge receives a decreased pressure alarm from the pipe, which could have been a natural result of the shutdown – or could have indicated a massive rupture.
• 9:25 p.m. July 25 - The local 911 center serving Marshall, Mich., receives its first complaint about the smell of gas in the spill area and firefighters are dispatched. They are looking for a natural gas leak, but are unable to find the smell's source.
• 11:15 a.m. Monday, July 26 - Enbridge's control center receives its first notification of a potential spill problem. Fifteen minutes later, the company's regional manager notifies workers in the company’s Marshall maintenance office.
• 11:45 a.m. July 26 - Enbridge workers begin deploying boom in an effort to contain the flow of oil at the spill site.
"This information is preliminary ... the best information we have today after six days of interviews," said Matt Nicholson, NTSB's lead investigator.
Enbridge faces the possibility of up to $100 million in penalties from a possible lawsuit.

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