Spectra Energy to take steps to meet requirements set out by NEB

A leak at Spectra's McMahon gas processing plant in May.

The Calgary Herald is reporting that Spectra Energy has issued an email statement that it is committed to taking the appropriate steps to meet requirements in a new National Energy Board safety order.

It was issued against Westcoast Energy—the operator of the U-S owned Spectra Energy Transmission system—and the newspaper article also reports Board spokesman Darin Barter saying the order is the last step before the NEB takes a company to court.

A so-called string of gas plant noncompliance issues reportedly prompted the order, and the Herald report says it includes the May release of butane, which briefly closed the Alaska Highway and led to the partial evacuation of Taylor.

It says about 22 hundred barrels of highly flammable butane were released and the leak was attributed to a valve failure.

Mr. Barter is quoted as calling it the latest of 31 reportable incidents since January of last year, and the Herald report adds, in its letter to the company, the NEB said its inspectors conducted 15 Westcoast processing plant inspections in the 14 months ending in June, and issued 27 notices of non-compliance under NEB processing plant regulations.

Mr. Barter adds, Spectra is, “Addressing individual circumstances, and that’s good, but we’re not seeing that holistic approach to company-wide safety”.

In the order the NEB notes, while Westcoast has adopted a proactive approach to safety and environmental protection, the Safety Order is required, in order to ensure continued progress toward implementation of a management system approach to them.

The order requires Westcoast to submit for NEB approval by August 14th, staffing reports for all of its NEB regulated gas processing plants and facilities, and by September 30th, a comprehensive report that identifies and commits to a plan to address its existing management system failures.

It also requires the company to examine and address all non-compliances, across all Westcoast processing plants and facilities, identified by NEB inspection officers between April first of last year, and July 14th of this year.

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