Enbridge files upgraded pipeline and marine safety plans with Northern Gateway Joint Review

Enbridge Northern Gateway today issued a news release saying that it has filed “Reply Evidence” to the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel that contains details of further enhancements in pipeline design and operations. Enbridge says the upgrades will add $500 million to the cost of the $5.5 billion project.

Enbridge has also filed updated plans for marine mammal protection.

The Enbridge news release is a summary of a 43-item filing of the reply evidence with the Joint Review Panel covering a vast number of topics from the pipeline projection to the possibility of earthquakes.

Related: Enbridge files thousands of pages in document dump reply evidence to Northern Gateway JRP

Northern Gateway Pipelines Reply_Evidence  (summary of filings PDF)

Link to 43 item  reply filing  on JRP website

Framework for Marine Mammal Protection Plan  (pdf)

According to the filing, the Marine Mammal Protection plan includes plans by Enbridge to fund research:

Northern Gateway has committed to funding a Marine Research Chair at a university in British Columbia.

Where it is agreed upon by the Marine Research Chair and Northern Gateway, programs and information from the MMPP will be integrated into research undertaken by the Marine Research Chair. Information from the Marine Research Chair may also be of value to the MMPP.


A spokesman for the University of British Columbia told Northwest Coast Energy News that no one from Enbridge has, so far, approached UBC about a Marine Research Chair.  A spokesperson at the University of Victoria also said there had been no contact from Enbridge.

On the pipeline plan, Enbridge says “These extra measures build on the plan in the application presently before federal regulators that already far surpasses industry codes and standards.”

“We recognize that there are concerns among Aboriginal groups and the public around pipeline safety and integrity. We had already planned to build a state-of-the-art project, using the most advanced technology, safety measures and procedures in the industry today,” said Janet Holder, Executive Vice President, Western Access, Enbridge Inc. “With these enhanced measures, we will make what is already a very safe project even safer in order to provide further comfort to people who are concerned about the safety of sensitive habitats in remote areas.”

Enbridge and the Northern Gateway project team have worked hard to ensure this unique project would be built and operated to the highest standards. The measures contained in the Reply Evidence go above and beyond anything that has ever been done before in the industry.

The extra measures include:

Increasing pipeline wall thickness of the oil pipeline
Additional pipeline wall thickness for water crossings such as major tributaries to the Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat Rivers
Increasing the number of remotely-operated isolation valves. This would increase the number of isolation valves in BC by 50%
Increasing frequency of in-line inspection surveys across entire pipeline system by a minimum 50% over and above current standards
Installing dual leak detection systems
Staff pump stations in remote locations on a 24/7 basis for on-site monitoring, heightened security, and rapid response to abnormal conditions
Enbridge expects these extra measures will carry an additional cost of approximately $400 million – $500 million.

“After years of consultation with stakeholders and after personally attending many regulatory hearings for Northern Gateway, it has become clear – we have to do everything we can to ensure confidence in the project,” said Ms. Holder. “We’ve listened. We have often been asked if we could guarantee that we would never have a significant pipeline failure over the years on Northern Gateway. These initiatives will put the project closer than any pipeline system in the world to providing that guarantee.”

Marine Mammal Protection Plan

In the filing, created by Stantec Consulting, Enbridge says the plan will address all marine mammal species that could be directly or indirectly affected  the Northern Gateway project, adding: “Attention will be given to species of cultural importance or heightened sensitivity to potential Project effects.”

The filing says Northern Gateway’s “commitment to a focused marine mammal monitoring and survey program is unprecedented for a marine project in Canada.”

It says that monitoring of marine mammals and “additional cooperative research initiatives” will also be of value to other organizations focused on supporting the recovery strategies for species of conservation concern.”

The report adds a caveat:

It is important to note ….it would be impractical to do a complete assessment of more than 30 different marine mammal species. Going forward, monitoring conducted in the CCAA will include additional marine mammal species For example, during marine mammal surveys, sightings of all marine mammal species would be recorded. In some cases, species-specific research initiatives (e.g., for northern resident (NR) killer whales) may also be implemented. Results from marine mammal monitoring surveys and research initiatives are expected to improve the regional understanding of all marine mammal species’ timing and distribution…


The report says the MMPP will include details on such measures as:

• low-noise propulsion systems on purpose built Project-related vessels (e.g., tug escorts and support
vessels for the marine terminal)
• reduced vessel speeds in the CCAA and in the “CCAA approaches”
• attempting to better understand the behavioural responses of NR killer whales to tankers and tugs
• identifying important habitat for NR killer whales and other cetaceans, as well as seasonal use of these habitats
• use of the results of a science-based quantitative vessel–marine mammal strike risk analysis
• to the extent practicable, allowing for tanker route adjustments (taking into account navigational andhuman safety) to avoid sensitive cetacean habitat during important seasonal periods
• undertaking a cooperative research initiative with other participating organizations to determine
potential effects on marine mammals and to develop industry protocols to limit these effects