A complaint by a former TransCanada Pipelines employee has prompted the National Energy Board to warn the company that its pipeline inspection practices aren’t up to snuff.
The federal energy industry regulator has told the Calgary-based company in a letter, which has been posted on the NEB website, that it will not put up with further infractions of regulations related to welding inspections, the training of pipeline inspectors and internal engineering standards.
The company is a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., which is proposing to build the controversial $12-billion Keystone XL pipeline to transport 830,000 barrels a day of mostly Alberta oilsands crude to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
"The board is concerned by TransCanada’s non-compliance with NEB regulations, as well as its own internal management systems and procedures," says the letter to Dan King, vice-president of engineering and asset reliability.
"Pipeline safety is of paramount importance to the NEB, and it will take all available actions to protect Canadians and the environment," it adds.
If the company doesn’t fix the problems, the NEB letter says, it "will not hesitate to impose appropriate corrective actions."
Many allegations supported
The NEB said it launched an investigation after a former TransCanada employee filed a complaint on May 1, accusing the firm of not complying with regulations.
The audit supported many of the former employee’s allegations, the NEB said.
The agency said the shortcomings "do not represent immediate threats to the safety of people or the environment."
As a result of the investigation, which was launched in June, the NEB said TransCanada has proposed remedies which it has promised have either been completed, or are in the process of being implemented.
U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the application by TransCanada in November of last year, saying more time was required to assess its environmental risks.
But the firm resubmitted its proposal for an altered northern segment of the route in May, one it said would address concerns about potential damage to a massive aquifer beneath the environmentally sensitive Nebraska Sandhills.
TransCanada has approximately 57,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines, storage facilities and power plants across North America.