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Spectra dinged six times for safety, environmental issues at B.C. gas facilities

Company working to comply with NEB rules
Spectra
Spectra Energy's Dawson Creek gas plant.

One company was involved in six pipeline safety incidents in B.C. this year, according to new National Energy Board (NEB) data.

Westcoast Energy, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy Transmission, was cited six times by Canada's energy regulator in 2015 for issues including unsafe crane operation, insufficient staffing, and failing to protect toad habitat. 

The National Energy Board announced it would begin publishing enforcement orders and fines issued to pipeline companies as part of a new "mandate of openness and accountability." 

According to a release, the regulator has issued 17 fines since 2014 totaling $811,300. 

Of the six enforcement orders issued to Spectra this year, three included fines totaling $122,000 (the company is challenging one $28,000 penalty). In all cases, the company has either fixed the problems or is working to  comply with NEB rules.   

On July 15, the NEB issued the company an order "to address safety concerns on a systemic basis." 

The regulator noted that while issues identified at individual plants had been fixed, the company needed to "identify and correct its management system failures, for the safety and security of its processing plants and facilities."

Between April 1, 2014 and June 26 2015, the NEB issued 27 notices at Spectra facilities for failing to abide by processing plant regulations. 

According to a Spectra spokesperson, the company filed a plan to fix the problems with the NEB in September, which included "an in-depth analysis of the root causes behind the non-compliance issues as well as details on the steps and timetable in which the corrective actions will be implemented." 

The regulator fined Spectra $88,000 on Jan. 22 for issues related to overhead cranes at its Dawson Creek Gas Plant. The incident followed on earlier inspections at other northern B.C. facilities that "identified similar, systemic non-compliance with respect to overhead cranes and material handling equipment."

In April, Spectra was dinged $6,300 for improper reporting of a routine shutdown at its Pine River Gas plant.

Spectra was issued another order in April at its Fort Nelson gas plant after an inspector found "a potentially serious threat to public safety and the environment" because the company did not appear to have "a sufficient number of qualified workers to safely conduct operations."

 

In June, inspectors noted additional problems with crane operations at Spectra's Kobes Creek Booster station at Mile 92 of the Alaska Highway. 

The company was also fined for allegedly failing to protect the habitat of the western toad on a pipeline project near Moberly Lake. The company is challenging the ruling.  

"We are fully committed to the safe and reliable operation of all of our gas processing plants and facilities, as well as meeting our regulatory requirements," spokesperson Jennifer Thomlinson wrote in an email. 

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