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Pipeline Safety Act aims to foster public trust, says MP

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

By Dryden Observer Staff

The House of Commons passed Bill C-46 the Pipeline Safety Act last week.

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 ($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 and providing governments with the ability to pursue pipeline operators for the costs of environmental damages.

MP Greg Rickford spoke about the implications the new act will entail

“I think what’s important about Pipeline Safety Act for me is that this was an exercise in our ongoing efforts to build public confidence around pipelines,” said Rickford. “Canada has a 99.999 per cent safety record with pipelines that are federally regulated. There are 72,000 km of federally regulated pipeline that I preside over and that are federally regulated. Despite that compelling statistic there were things that I think we needed to focus on, key words that Canadians could identify and that legislation I think reflects it and I think I can say with some confidence has attracted the support of our opposition parties and moved smoothly through. We may as different parties disagree with what goes through pipelines but at the end of the day it appears as though the relatively smooth passing of this safety prevention preparedness response and world class liability anchored by the polluter pays principle resonated with people.”

The measures of the bill 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 percent and double the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada. There is currently a safety inspector for every 1,217 miles of National Energy Board regulated oil and gas pipeline. By comparison, in the United States there is one inspector for every 5,830 miles of pipeline. The rate of spills on federally regulated pipelines in Canada was 57 percent lower than in Europe and 60 percent lower than in the United States over the past decade.

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


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