Can Enbridge be trusted to build and operate the Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline in a safe and sustainable manner? Judging from today’s scathing National Transportation Safety Board report on Enbridge’s horrendous pipeline spill in Michigan two years ago, the answer would appear to be a resounding “No!” But that’s just one of the difficult questions faced by Enbridge today.


The basic facts about the Michigan disaster were already known, but it is still shocking to see the chronology laid out. Enbridge knew of pipeline problems for five years, but failed to address them. And when the alarms were tripped that fateful day, Enbridge contol-centre operatives waited 17 hours to shut down the pipeline (after restarting twice), and only after the extreme rupture was reported to the authorities by a local gas utility.

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Preventable Errors Led to Pipeline Spill, Inquiry Finds

Preventable safety blunders by the pipeline operator Enbridge and lax regulation led to the disastrous 2010 rupture and oil spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, federal investigators reported on Tuesday.

The pipeline spewed 843,000 gallons of highly polluting oil sands crude into the river, soiling 35 miles of wetlands and waterways and sickening 320 people and nearly 4,000 animals.

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Government investigation provides damning picture of the Kalamazoo tar sands spill

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) heard the major findings of its two year investigation of the Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill, which released over a million gallons of corrosive tar sands into the Kalamazoo River watershed in July 2010. The Kalamazoo spill has clearly demonstrated how dirty and dangerous tar sands pipelines are, even more dangerous than conventional oil pipelines. Nearly two years after what has become the most expensive pipeline disaster in U.S. history, emergency responders are still struggling to clean up the Kalamazoo River. The government’s investigation raises serious questions about whether corrosive tar sands can be safely moved on the U.S. pipeline system, especially when they cross farms and waters in the U.S. heartland as the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would do. In particular, the NTSB provides a damning picture of Enbridge’s pipeline safety measures. As one NTSB board member put it, this investigation did not only show corrosion of Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline, but also demonstrates systemic corrosion of Enbridge’s pipeline safety program

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NTSB report: Enbridge’s response to Michigan oil spill was ‘poor’

The July 2010 oil spill near Marshall, Mich., though little-known by the public, was widely considered one of the worst inland oil spills in U.S. history. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board has released the results of a two-year investigation into the spill — and Enbridge Energy Partners takes it on the chin.

For starters, NTSB investigators said, Enbridge knew that its pipeline had been damaged five years before the spill. When the spill actually occurred, investigators said, the company’s response was, in short, “poor.”

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