Monday, February 24, 2014


O.K. I can see this story by W5 being a little controversial. When I read the headline in the Waterloo Region Record "Pipeline spills uncovered, some close to Waterloo Region", I was shocked. Then I read 35 spills in total versus 7 reported to the National Energy Board and 13 reported to W5 by Enbridge. As I got further into the story it seemed almost a huge relief to understand that the difference wasn't exactly spills to the natural environment so much as spills within Enbridge's "facilities". Presumably this would be pumping stations, storage facilities etc..

So exactly how problematic are these numerous spills, some small, some large, within "facilities"? That is a very good question. I personally have worked in a facility that handled large volumes of hazardous liquids. These included fuels, solvents and oils etc.. According to the Enbridge spokesperson all spills are completely captured and cleaned up. Hmm. Where I worked at Varnicolor Chemical in Elmira, Ontario we were subject to a whole raft of provincial rules and regulations surrounding tank farms, containment areas, spill management and on and on. They were all routinely ignored and totally unenforced by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Let's give Enbridge the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Let's assume that their tank farms don't leak. Let's assume that their entire facilty is covered in concrete and is routinely inspected for and cracks repaired. Let's assume that their equipment such as pumps, hoses and tanks are in good repair. Let's assume that they have an adequate supply of absorbent materials and berms. Hopefully they have a portable vacuum truck as well. Hopefully their staff are well trained including regular spill training. Given all of these good things I still am perplexed. Why so many spills at facilities? Where I worked spills were caused by faulty, out of repair equipment, constant new employees without training and low tech or no tech spill alarms on tanks and pumps. Furthermore tank farms leaked and the ground surrounding them wasn't impermeable. Enridge you've got some explaining to do.

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