NDP demands pipeline review

Alberta’s auditor general has been asked to look at how well the province’s pipelines are being monitored, following a series of recent oil leaks.

EDMONTON — Alberta’s auditor general has been asked to look at how well the province’s pipelines are being monitored, following a series of recent oil leaks.

New Democrat MLA Dave Eggen says investigations by both the federal auditor general and Saskatchewan’s auditor found that pipelines weren’t being properly inspected or maintained.

Eggen has written to Alberta Auditor General Merwan Saher, asking him to conduct a similar systems audit in this province.

Eggen says an independent review by the province’s fiscal watchdog would go a long way towards restoring public confidence in the pipeline industry.

Last week, a coalition of more than 50 environmental groups wrote to Premier Alsion Redford asking for a review after three pipeline leaks in June, including one that spilled crude oil into the Red Deer River.

Eggen says it’s possible everything is fine, but the air needs to be cleared on the issue.

“This sort of Wild West way of dealing with things — semi-transparent — is over,” he said.

Some have said the need for an independent review of pipeline safety in Albwerta is more urgent now that a U.S. investigation has sharply criticized a Calgary company’s efforts to clean up a major oil spill.

The National Transportation Safety Board in the U.S. compared the efforts of Enbridge Inc. to clean up a massive spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River to silent-movie slapstick characters the Keystone Kops. The board said the company reacted too slowly and entirely mishandled the pipeline break.

There have been three pipeline-related spills in Alberta in recent weeks.

In late May, 3.5 million litres of oil and salt water leaked into muskeg near the northern community of Rainbow Lake. On June 7, up to 475,000 litres of oil leaked from a pipeline into the Red Deer River near Sundre, the source of drinking water for many central Alberta communities. Also in June, a leaky gasket at a pumping station released 230,000 litres of oil near Elk Lake in northeastern Alberta.

Redford has said she doesn’t want to decide on a pipeline review until the Energy Resources and Conservation Board completes its own investigations.

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