April 05, 2016 - 10:33 AM
CALGARY - Canada's energy watchdog is ordering pipeline companies to post their emergency response plans on websites.
The National Energy Board believes it's the first regulator in North America to have that requirement.
Emergency procedures manuals must be available online by the end of September.
Some information may be excluded, such as personal information and details that may jeopardize security or harm traditional indigenous sites or at-risk species.
Board chairman Peter Watson has been travelling the country discussing the role of a regulator that at one time flew under the radar of most Canadians.
But Watson says the public is demanding more transparency as the debate intensifies over pipelines and the development of the oil and gas they carry.
"We've always reviewed manuals, we've always reviewed companies' emergency management systems to make sure they're robust, but Canadians are now saying they want more information and we're just acting on what Canadians are telling us," Watson said in an interview in the NEB's downtown Calgary office.
"This is an example where I felt quite strongly that we could put more information out about companies emergency response plans and help people understand what's at play and how these things work. And that will, I think, give them more confidence that we know what we're doing around these systems for emergency response."
The order applies to Kinder Morgan's existing Trans Mountain pipeline, which ships 300,000 barrels a day of various petroleum products from Alberta to the B.C. Lower Mainland.
Kinder Morgan is aiming to triple the capacity of the line. The NEB has wrapped up hearings into that contentious project and Ottawa's final decision is expected in December.
"If the expansion is approved, and the project goes ahead, they will then need to update their (emergency response) plan for the expansion project," said Watson.
The NEB wrapped up public consultations last summer about the emergency response information, after having received 35 submissions. It heard from industry, first responder groups, municipal governments and others.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016