Legislation to enhance pipeline safety passes in House of Commons

The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, has issued a statement following the passage of the Pipeline Safety Act (Bill C-46) in the House of Commons.

“Today’s passing of our government’s Pipeline Safety Act will further enhance Canada’s already world-class pipeline safety system. Indeed, this system has transported 99.999% of oil and petroleum products safely via federally regulated pipelines between 2008 and 2013.

“Once again, we are demonstrating our government’s commitment to improving transportation of energy across Canada even further. Our plan for Responsible Resource Development will continue improving protection of the environment while creating Canadian jobs and supporting economic growth.”

With this legislation, the Government is implementing a suite of measures to strengthen incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation. These include:

  • Enshrining in law the “polluter pays” principle.
  • Implementing absolute, “no fault” liability (US$1 billion in the case of companies operating major oil pipelines).
  • Requiring companies operating pipelines to hold a minimum level of financial resources in case of an incident.
  • Providing governments with the ability to pursue pipeline operators for the costs of environmental damages.

These measures build on previous measures introduced through Canada’s plan for Responsible Resource Development. These include increasing annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50% and double the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada. There is currently a safety inspector for every 1217 miles of National Energy Board regulated oil and gas pipeline. By comparison, in the United States there is one inspector for every 5830 miles of pipeline. The rate of spills on federally regulated pipelines in Canada was 57% lower than in Europe and 60% lower than in the United States over the past decade.

The Pipeline Safety Act has now been referred to the Senate for consideration.

Adapted from press release by Hannah Priestley-Eaton

Published on 07/05/2015

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