Pipeline firms to pay all costs, damages in new spill safety rules

VANCOUVER - Pipeline companies will be liable for all costs and damages from a spill, regardless of fault or negligence, under changes to the federal pipeline regime.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says pipeline operators will also have to have a minimum amount of cash available to pay cleanup costs and the National Energy board will be given the power to order reimbursement for those affected by a spill.

They are the latest in a number of changes to marine and pipeline safety as British Columbia is divided by debate over two major pipeline proposals in the province.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced changes to marine safety regulations around oil spills, including a $400 million compensation fund to cover the costs of a marine spill.

The federal government is expected to announce its final decision on the contentious Northern Gateway pipeline next month.

Project opponents worry that a spill of diluted bitumen on land or from tankers along the B.C. coast could be disastrous.

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