Pipelines are the safest method of transporting fuels, as they have the least amount of releases of any transportation mode.
Judge us by what we’ve done – year in, year out – through our 60 year history. Safety is our highest priority. No accident is ever acceptable. Our objective is to avoid spills.
Our goal is always to have zero spills. Along the Northern Gateway pipeline route, safety measures will include:
Plans will be prepared in advance to identify potential control points along every watercourse
Our environmental protection systems are designed to spot trouble before leaks occur to proactively protect our environment.
First, the pipeline pressure is continuously monitored by our control centre operators to identify any pressure changes. They are trained to respond to any pressure fluctuation and take pump stations off line and remotely close valves as necessary. Second, the varying elevation of the pipeline through rolling hills and mountainous areas also provides a dramatic limit to the amount of oil that could potentially come out of the pipe.
Initial response to a Control Centre MBS (Material Balance System) alarm will be in accordance with current Control Centre Operations procedures and in compliance with all applicable codes in effect at the time of the design. Enbridge’s current procedures require initiation of a line shutdown within 10 minutes of receiving an unexplained MBS alarm and initiation of the specific subsequent steps depending on the nature of the alarm.
Enbridge has been operating liquids pipelines since 1949 and invests heavily in pipeline safety though a branch of technology known as Pipeline Integrity management and maintenance, which encompasses all of the tools, technologies, and strategies needed to ensure pipeline networks have the strength and operating 'fitness' to perform safely, reliably and in an environmentally responsible manner.
More than 450 employees and contractors work to support the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline system. Enbridge’s significant investment in its ongoing Integrity Management System is evidence of our commitment to preventing spills and leaks.
Enbridge has a preventive maintenance program for our pipeline system that includes:
Enbridge is recognized as an industry leader in pipeline safety and integrity. Our activities – everything from pipeline design, construction, testing, maintenance, operation and safety practices – are subject to government regulations, which we work hard to meet or exceed.
Our pipelines undergo rigorous testing during construction, before being placed in service and during normal operations, using many of the following processes and technologies to prevent and detect leaks:
Enbridge is committed to using the most modern technologies to ensure the pipeline is protected from the natural environment.
Enbridge is considering a number of measures to protect the pipeline where it crosses terrain exposed to avalanche and other slope hazards. These measures include tunnels, deep burial of the pipe, special pipe design and other protection measures. Enbridge does not anticipate there will be any stand alone avalanche sheds on the route.
Routing assessments for the project through the steep mountain valleys of the Kitimat and Clore Rivers have identified a number of areas exposed to a range of slope hazards including avalanches. Detailed engineering will include further assessments of these hazards and development of appropriate protection measures.
One example of measures planned to protect the pipeline from avalanches and other slope hazards are the tunnels in the Nimbus Mountain area connecting the Clore and Kitimat River Valleys. The tunnels were selected to provide a safe means to cross under steep mountain terrain subject to avalanche hazards.
The current route crosses 773 active watercourses in Alberta and BC, ranging from very small creeks to larger rivers. Of these crossings, approximately 83 are deemed, by Northern Gateway experts applying DFO guidelines, to be high sensitivity crossings.
Today our pipelines cross hundreds of rivers both large and small, some of which include the Athabasca, Missouri, North and South Saskatchewan, Niagara and St. Claire rivers.
We use a variety of crossing techniques to ensure that our pipelines are safely placed and disturb the environment as little as possible during construction and provide maximum safety while in operation.
Northern Gateway has established a strategic watercourse crossings team to conduct detailed site surveys at difficult crossings to ensure they can be built responsibly and with minimal impacts. Already the pipeline route has been adjusted in some areas to avoid sensitive fisheries habitat and other natural resources.
A number of water crossing techniques will be used and must be approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the National Energy Board. Most of the watercourse crossings are very straightforward. Northern Gateway has established a strategic watercourse crossings team to conduct detailed site surveys at difficult crossings to ensure they can be built responsibly and with minimal impacts.
The following watercourse crossing methods will be used for the Project:
In general, the pipeline will be buried deeper under watercourse crossings to provide additional protection. On average the pipeline will have a minimum depth of cover of 0.9 meters (3 feet). At watercourse crossings the pipeline will generally have a minimum depth of cover of about 1.5 meters.
For watercourses that are crossed using horizontal directional drilling, the depth of cover will range from about 30 to 100 meters.
There will be sections of the pipeline that require thicker walls for additional protection. This is usually done for watercourses crossed with horizontal directional drilling. The general pipeline wall thickness will be between 19.8 mm and 22.2 mm. In sections requiring thicker walls, the thickness will range from 22.2 mm to 24.0 mm.
In Canada and the U.S., Enbridge operates the world’s longest and most advanced petroleum and liquids pipeline system. We move more than two million barrels of petroleum products through our pipeline system each day, and we do so according to the highest industry standards for safety and environmental protection.
An environmental and socio-economic assessment (ESA) process assesses the potential effects of the project from biological, natural processes, human health, and socio-economic perspectives, relative to what is there now. Opportunities are then identified to reduce or manage the project's potential effects, and monitoring programs designed to keep an eye on results.
In response to requests from stakeholders for more detailed information about the project in an easy to understand fashion, we have developed two discussion guides. One is specific to the marine aspects of the project and the other to the pipeline aspects.
These two discussion guides provide a summary of:
The information in the discussion guides reflects the work completed as of April 2009. Work on the analysis is still underway and an update will include a summary of the preliminary residual effects (effects after mitigation has been taken into account).
We are looking for your feedback regarding the project. Now is the ideal time to send your feedback as the project is still in the design stage – the easiest time for modifications to happen. The discussion guides will acquaint you with the specifics of the project enabling more substantial input. If there is more information you need, please email us and we will be happy to provide that as well if it is available. Or if you prefer a conversation, call us at 1-888-434-0533 and we’ll arrange a suitable time.
The project will only be as good as the input that goes into it.
Environmental protection is a core priority at Enbridge. The company devotes significant time, energy and financial resources to ensure we prevent accidents before they occur.
If an incident should occur, Northern Gateway will be there quickly to control, contain and clean up.
Key elements of our strategy are:
Our commitment to reduce our environmental impact where it is felt most: on the trees we remove, the natural habitat we permanently impact, and the energy we consume to power our operations
Northern Gateway announces $1.5M education & training fund. Read more.