Researchers Question Enbridge Oil Spill Risk Assessment Methods

Today is the last day to submit a rebuttal comment to Enbridge’s request before the PUC to increase the carrying capacity of one of its pipelines across northern Minnesota.

Yesterday the Vancouver Sun carried an interesting article about Enbridge’s faulty risk assessment methodology. It says that Enbridge does not use the standard risk assessment tool — the U.S. Oil Spill Risk Analysis model – and it appears to have drastically underestimated risks associated with its pipelines and oil transport project across British Columbia.

Researchers at Simon Fraser University issued a report after examining the risk assessment of the Northern Gateway megaproject, which includes a lengthy pipeline, a marine terminal and tankers.

In addition to its failure to use the standard risk assessment model, it was found that the model Enbridge does use had 28 deficiencies. The database it used to create its assessment significantly under-reports tanker incidents — by 38 to 96%. And researchers say Enbridge made no attempts to correct for under-reporting.

Enbridge assessed the risk of a marine tanker oil spill at 18%; the researchers concluded that the chance of a spill was between 93 and 99% (over the 30 to 50-year operating life of the project).

Enbridge estimated one oil spill every two years along its 1,160 kilometer pipeline, According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Tom Gunton, director of the School of Resource and Environmental Management at SFU, the researchers estimated up to 15 oil spills per year, based on Enbridge’s own pipeline spill records from 2002 to 2010.

Based on this news, I think it would be reasonable to say that for the safety of our communities and our water supply, the MN PUC – and any other governmental body making decisions on Enbridge projects – should conduct its own risk assessment or hire an independent firm to do so.

1 thought on “Researchers Question Enbridge Oil Spill Risk Assessment Methods

  1. Andrew Adelmann

    Thanks Leslie for pulling this stuff together and pushing folks to comment to the PUC! I very rarely do this kind of communication on public issues but was impelled after reading this to make my comment, earlier today. Keep up the good work!



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