On the ground when needed: Inspection report now available for CER field response to the Line 3 Herschel Pump Station incident

Work boots in the foreground and construction site in the background

September 9, 2020

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) works to keep energy moving safely in Canada.

To meet our mandate, we require companies to anticipate, prevent, manage and mitigate conditions that could harm people, property and the environment.

The CER also expects the companies we regulate to be prepared if an incident occurs that affects any of Canada’s federal oil and gas pipelines or facilities. We hold ourselves to this same standard and are ready to respond when needed.

On April 30, 2020, Enbridge’s emergency response plans were put into action following an above ground oil release via auxiliary piping at the Line 3 Herschel Pump Station. A CER inspection officer, Dan Barghshoon, was sent to the rural Saskatchewan incident site to oversee the company’s actions and the CER notified the Line 3 Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee (IAMC) of the incident. As this was the CER’s first field response since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, additional risks had to be considered. The CER followed its guidelines for field work adapted in response to COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of those on site and that of nearby communities.

“A company needs to be prepared to respond to incidents, and this means they’ve accounted for added challenges such as the pandemic,” shares Dan, who was on site over two days to assess the company’s response and cleanup. During this time, the CER answered questions from local First Nation community members who toured the incident site and kept the Line 3 IAMC informed of its response. The CER has now published its detailed inspection report, including observations of the company’s emergency management and environmental protection actions, in addition to how they followed COVID-19 public health and safety measures. We are now applying what we learned from this incident and inspection. This includes how we can prevent similar incidents from happening and continue to ensure the safety of CER staff, companies and all those we work closely with when in the field.

For Dan, the CER’s work responding to incidents is all about making sure that companies are doing what’s right. “Assessing first-hand how a company is keeping people safe and protecting or minimizing impacts to the environment, allows us to confidently say they are doing what’s required.” This oversight is critical, and the CER’s role goes beyond verifying that regulations are being followed. “It’s about our commitment to preventing harm and our responsibility to be on the ground when that’s what’s needed,” concludes Dan.

The CER’s review of this incident is ongoing. We continue to monitor the company’s remediation activities to ensure the site is restored to the CER’s strict safety and environmental standards.

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