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Kinder Morgan At Risk of Violating NEB Condition With Premature 300,000-Tonne Pipeline Order

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain may be in violation of a condition laid out by the National Energy Board, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, after ordering nearly 300,000 tonnes of pipeline for the expansion project without submitting a quality management plan.

According to regulatory documents filed by the National Energy Board in September, Trans Mountain was required to file a quality management plan “at least four months prior to manufacturing any pipe and major components for the project.”

The quality management plan requires Trans Mountain to supply documentation regarding the qualifications of pipeline contractors, vendors and suppliers, quality auditing of manufactured pipe and the preservation of pipe during shipping and storage.

Yet in documents submitted to the NEB, Trans Mountain confirmed pipeline manufacturing contracts were awarded between May and July of 2017 and manufacturing of the pipeline began in October with no plan in place.

In 2012, TransCanada came under fire for failing to comply with NEB rules regarding pipeline inspections. Since 1999 the NEB has required companies to provide independent inspections of contracted pipeline manufacturers. Whistleblower Evan Vokes raised the alarm about faulty pipeline welding practices, bringing his complaint to the NEB after TransCanada refused to acknowledge his concerns.

Peter McCartney, campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, said the company’s actions are evidence of a disregard for Canada’s regulatory process.

“They think the rules don’t apply to them and yet there are 157 conditions the federal government placed on this project’s approval,” McCartney told DeSmog Canada.

The NEB has indicated it will review Trans Mountain’s potential non-compliance in an “upcoming compliance verification activity.”

In early February 2017 Trans Mountain submitted a filing to the NEB that included “incomplete process documentation” on 13 specific aspects of Condition 9, which applies to the quality management plan.

Trans Mountain notified the NEB it would submit completed documentation to the NEB by August 15, 2017, but by September none of the requested document has been submitted.

In a response to the NEB, Trans Mountain confirmed it had procured pipe, fitting and other major components for the pipeline, prior to the completion of its quality management plan.

A spokesperson with the NEB told DeSmog Canada that an assessment of Trans Mountain’s “condition related filings is ongoing.”

“Throughout construction oversight, the NEB undertakes assessment of company documentation to ensure pipe and components meet regulations and standards,” the spokesperson said. “The company is accountable for meeting these regulations and standards.”

Trans Mountain did not respond to a written request for comment.

McCartney said these revelations add to growing concerns Trans Mountain is not interested in following rules laid out by the federal government.

Last month the NEB ordered Trans Mountain to remove unapproved anti-spawning mats a company biologist placed in B.C. and Alberta rivers along the proposed pipeline route. In an October 12 letter, the NEB told Trans Mountain the use of such installations “prior to approval of relevant conditions for commencement of construction and approval” of the pipeline was non-compliant.

Trans Mountain recently appealed to the NEB to help keep the project on schedule by expediting ongoing reviews of project conditions. The request came as the city of Burnaby, which vocally opposes the project, refused to issue construction permits to the company.

According to previous NEB filings, Trans Mountain plans to stockpile pipeline in New Westminster, Chilliwack, Hope, Merritt, Kamloops, Vavenby and Valemount.

Those piles could begin appearing as early as this month.

Kinder Morgan released an IPO in May, seeking $1.75 billion from investors. In a prospectus filed with security regulators the company warned delays in construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline posed a significant risk to the project.

“Should any number of risks arise, [Trans Mountain] may be inhibited, delayed or stopped altogether,” the document warned.

NEB Letter to Trans Mountain re Condition 9 September 2017 by DeSmog Canada on Scribd

Trans Mountain Response to NEB Letter – Condition 9 September 2017 by DeSmog Canada on Scribd

Image: Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline sign in Burnaby. Photo: Carol Linnitt | DeSmog Canada

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

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When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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