Enbridge pipeline maintenance concerns

Enbridge is in the headlines for the July 26 2010 3.3 million litre crude oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. This area of the pipeline known as Line 68 had been subject to more than 100 repairs this past year.

The question being asked is, "Did Enbridge do the necessary maintenance on this pipeline?" There is a letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation that states that the Enbridge Energy Partners out of Houston informed the department that the pipe was likely needing replacement. This section is 41 years-old.

The underground pipeline is part of the Lakehead system has been shut down for routine maintenance on the Sunday and when it was restarted on the Monday the leak was discovered.

Enbridge has had a total of 1.5 million litres of oil spilled since 2002. This is a good record compared to almost double that for this recent spill before this current leak was contained.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has direct Enbridge to complete a comprehensive safety assessment on the line before opening it to service. As well the ruptured pipe has to go to a national board for testing.

The next steps will be a failure analysis that Enbridge has to develop and implement with a work plan covering the factors noted in the report. The pipeline will be allowed to restart with a 20% reduction in operating pressure as a safety precaution.

What will be the costs for Enbridge? Costs will include the additional crews, $2 million USD emergency funding, insurance claims for loss of income and additional living expenses, and environmental fines on local, municipal and federal levels.

No oil has yet been detected by the scientific instruments monitoring the Great Lakes water. TurnersTips has always maintained that safety is one of the best means of controlling your insurance costs. Good risk management reduces claims. Talk to your insurance broker about what you should be doing for your business.