U.S. officials are demanding Calgary-based oil giant Enbridge submit a re-start plan before it can re-open a pipeline which spilled thousands of gallons of crude in Wisconsin last week.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced Tuesday it has blocked Enbridge's Houston-based subsidiary from reopening the 687 kilometre line.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that he plans to meet with company officials soon.
He said they'll have to convince him why the pipeline should continue to operate without an overhaul or complete replacement.
State Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Culhane said the pasture's owner and his wife, as well as a woman, her daughter and her mother were evacuated from two homes near the rupture because the air was full of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer.
Some cattle and horses also had to be rinsed off, he said.
Even Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel admits that the NTSB's initial findings cast doubt on the "operational capacity" of the company and would create "additional challenges" for its highly controversial Northern Gateway project.
On July 10 the U.S. federal accident investigator embarrassed Canada's oil industry when it found both Enbridge and its public regulators guilty of negligence and incompetence during the costly Michigan rupture which contaminated 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River with toxic diluted bitumen.
The NTSB summary report not only found Enbridge's pipeline rupture in Michigan totally preventable but also lambasted Enbridge for its "culture of deviance" on pipeline safety. It also criticized weak regulators.
Today the federal government confirmed the provisions of its weakened environmental assessment of the proposed Northern Gateway project: a fast-tracked process, with narrowly-defined environmental criteria, and within which the review panel no longer even has the authority to overturn the proposal on environmental grounds.
I believe it's time for both sides to calm down on this sort of thing. Some pipelines will be built, so the "no pipeline" position is not reasonable. Some pipelines will not be built, so the argument that the economy depends on it is also not valid. The process should concentrate on valuation of oil spill penalties, to the degree that a company would rather avoid them than pay the fines involved. Let the company decide on the appropriate technology required to achieve those ends.
Hell, some Ontario roads are being built with snake and turtle access underneath and berms on top for deer crossings. We could certainly make oil pipelines less intrusive to the environment.
"My life is my own."
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I'd be far happier to move beyond "spill penalties" and look at the horrendous track record of enbridge, and for any pipelines that will be built, enforce waaaaay higher standards and maintenance to prevent any spills from happening in the first place.