New pipeline review urged
A coalition of 54 groups is demanding Alberta’s auditor general conduct a safety review of the province’s pipeline system.
The coalition called the $455,000 report on pipeline safety by Group 10 Engineering a failure since it was merely a review of current regulations.
“Albertans deserve a real pipeline safety review,” said Don Bester, president of the Alberta Surface Rights Group, on Wednesday.
“They deserve an independent review that takes a holistic look at Alberta’s mounting pipeline problems. The auditor general in Saskatchewan already undertook such a review and we hope that our provincial auditor will do the same.”
On Wednesday, the coalition sent a letter to Premier Alison Redford expressing their disappointment with the report released by the province on Friday.
The province commissioned the report last summer after a string of oil spills, including a 3,000-barrel spill from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline that contaminated the Red Deer River system.
Crude leaked into the rain-swollen Red Deer River near Sundre and made its way to Gleniffer Lake near Innisfail in June 2012.
The province says its independent review confirmed that Alberta leads in pipeline safety and provides the most thorough overall pipeline regulatory regime of all assessed jurisdictions.
The review had 17 recommendations to further improve safety.
Bester, of the Innisfail area, said a lot of the pipelines in Alberta are 50 years old and the review of regulations deliberately avoids dealing with the issue of responsibility for pipeline inspections.
“Regulations are only as good as the regulatory body who does the inspections. If you don’t inspect anything, then you don’t have any problems, do you?”
He said the review should have included a recommendation for pipelines to be drilled beneath water bodies like the Red Deer River instead of dropping pipelines into the river and using cement weights to hold them down.
He said uprooted trees and rocks are hammering away at pipe in the Red Deer River, especially when the water level is high.
“(Water) will move a rock three feet in diameter.”
He said flooding in the Red Deer River system could take out any pipeline and the next spill could be devastating if it reaches intakes for water treatment plants.
“You’d pretty near knock out Central Alberta’s water supply for all the towns and cities.”
The province has given Albertans 45 days to comment on the 900-page report.
But Bester said most of the members with Alberta Surface Rights Group are farmers and combines are starting to roll and will have little time to respond.
“It’s just very convenient that everyone of us out here in the farming community are starting to lay down our grain. It’s going to take 30 days of harvest to get anywhere near done.”