Re: Enbridge advertisement, Nov. 21.
My comments come from the perspective of having spent many years in the pipeline-construction industry.
Basically, the text has applied to pipeline construction for many years and is mandated in the codes to which pipelines are designed and constructed.
But the text does make three measurable statements.
1. "We will use thicker pipe." Unless mandated by law, there is nothing to prevent a future operator, after a few years of production, from increasing the pipeline's throughput by 20 per cent, thus negating the value of extra wall thickness.
2. "In-line inspection surveys will be increased ... 50 per cent over and above current practices." This presupposes that "current practices" are adequate, questionable in view of Enbridge's leakage record.
3. "Isolation valves will be used, increasing their number in B.C. by 50 per cent." Why only in B.C., and how was this 50 per cent determined? Every river, stream and wetland needs assessing and tailored protection, which should not be compromised whether or not it is located at a low elevation point along the pipeline.
This all leads to an important factor that is largely being ignored. Modern technology allows for the early detection of very small defects inside and outside a pipeline, but these measurements are expensive. Also, there are several types of in-line inspection tools offering different defect type measurement. The history of pipe leaks in Canada and U.S. would lead one to suspect that the frequency or type of in-line inspection is inadequate. This cannot be left in the hands of the pipeline operators, but needs independent monitoring.
If we are to prevent leaks, the jurisdictions through which pipelines pass need revised or new mandatory inspection regulations that will not only deal with frequency and type of inspections, but also publish the results. There must also be mandatory determination of just when a measured defect must be repaired or a section of pipe replaced.
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