Today over 50 groups sent an open letter to Premier Redford asking for an independent review on pipeline safety in the province.  The groups represent a cross section of interests from landowner associations, to health advocates, First Nations, social justice groups, unions and environmentalists. The groups sent the letter because even after 3 major oil spills hit the province, and Tuesday’s damning indictment of Enbridge’s response to the 2010 Kalamazoo spill, Alberta’s Premier is still failing to do anything to stop the next one.

Instead Premier Redford has said she wants to wait to consider the review until after the investigations into each major spill has been completed. She wants to wait despite the fact that those investigations will not look into more holistic and systemic problems dealing with government oversight, enforcement, and regulations. The Premier also wants to wait despite the fact that the average ERCB investigation takes over 9 months to complete; given Alberta’s average number of spills per year, we can expect another 484 to take place in those 9 months.

No instead of doing the responsible thing and conducting the independent review, her Minister’s have brought out the well worn ‘world class’ phrase to describe Alberta’s pipeline system. Apparently three major oil spills in just over a month, over 600 every year and a complete collapse and ineptitude of Enbridge’s Edmonton-based response center are all elements of a ‘world class’ system.

The Alberta government also called their tar sands water monitoring system ‘world class.’ That was until independent science proved that it wasn’t and two independent panels concluded that it was ‘inadequate.’ In fact the system wasn’t monitoring for the right things, wasn’t in the right areas, wasn’t comprehensive it simply hadn’t done it’s job and wasn’t capable of doing it.

Perhaps the reason Premier Redford hasn’t initiated the public review is because she thinks similar things will be discovered about Alberta’s pipeline system.

Unfortunately this means the Premier seems more willing to put Albertan communities and environment at risk then to try to find out where the holes are and fix them.

Please read the groups letter and add your name to the growing list of voices calling for an independent pipeline review in Alberta.

 As Deborah Hersman, the chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board who issued the Enbridge report on the Kalamazoo, Michigan tar sands spill paraphrasingly said: our job shouldn’t be to just fine a company after a break but to stop the break from happening at all.

The Open Letter:

Dear Premier Redford,

The recent series of major pipeline spills in the province has raised serious concerns for all Albertans about the integrity and oversight of the more than 300,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines that crisscross the province. These spills have brought attention to an issue that affects the entire province. Albertans deserve assurances that our pipeline infrastructure is safe, and that appropriate regulations and oversight are in place.

For this reason, we are calling on you to initiate an immediate independent province-wide review of pipeline safety in Alberta, similar to the one which was recently conducted for the Auditor General of Saskatchewan’s 2012 report.

 We are encouraged that you have indicated you are “not opposed” to such a review, but we believe that such a critical issue simply cannot wait, as you have indicated, for the conclusion of the ERCB investigation into the recent spills. The average ERCB investigation takes nine months to complete, with some investigations taking years, and broader concerns related to regulation and enforcement are unlikely to be addressed by these investigations. An independent review of regulations and enforcement can and must be conducted in a parallel time frame to any ERCB investigation into individual spills.

Albertans need to know that their families, communities and drinking water are safe from pipeline spills. The time for leadership on pipeline safety is now, and the first step must be an independent pipeline safety review.

Signed,

  1. Alberta Landowners Council
  2. Alberta Surface Rights Group
  3. Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
  4. Alberta Wilderness Association
  5. Alberta Workers’ Health Centre
  6. Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
  7. Big Valley Surface Rights
  8. Border Surface Rights
  9. Butte Action Committee
  10. Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
  11. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Northern Alberta Chapter
  12. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Southern Alberta Chapter
  13. Central Athabasca Stewardship Society
  14. ChangeAlberta
  15. Citizens for Responsible Development
  16. Citizens for Responsible Power
  17. Cleanwater Foundation
  18. Confederacy of Treaty 6
  19. Council of Canadians
  20. Davey Lake Group
  21. Dene Nation
  22. Earth Alternatives
  23. Edmonton Friends of the North Environmental Society
  24. Environmental Defence
  25. Friends of Lily Lake
  26. Glasswaters Foundation
  27. Greenpeace Canada
  28. Indigenous Environmental Network
  29. International Institute of Concern for Public Health
  30. Keepers of the Athabasca
  31. Lac Ste Anne Community Group
  32. Lochend Under Siege Group
  33. National Farmers Union
  34. Nature Alberta
  35. North Saskatchewan Riverkeepers
  36. Onoway River Valley Conservation Association
  37. Peace River Environmental Society
  38. Pembina Institute
  39. Powers Group
  40. Public Interest Alberta
  41. Regional Environmental Action Committee
  42. Seniors' Action and Liaison Team
  43. Sierra Club Prairie Chapter
  44. South Porcupine Stewardship Association
  45. Springvale Surface Rights Association
  46. Strawberry Landowners Group
  47. Three Creeks Resident’s group
  48. United Landowners of Alberta
  49. United Nurses of Alberta
  50. Uptag Society
  51. Warburg Pembina Surface Rights Group
  52. Water Matters
  53. West Athabasca Watershed Bio Regional Society
  54. World Wildlife Fund

 

cc: Danielle Smith, Wildrose

     Raj Sherman, Alberta Liberal

Brian Mason, Alberta NDP