* Spill was the result of multiple cracks
* NTSB cites Enbridge for not recognizing rupture
* Green group says Enbridge can't be trusted
By Russ Blinch
WASHINGTON, July 10 Enbridge's massive oil
pipeline spill in Michigan in 2010 was caused by a complete
breakdown of company safety measures, while its employees
performed like "Keystone Kops" trying to contain it, the
National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.
The rupture of Enbridge's pipeline spilled more than 20,000
barrels of heavy crude into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in July,
"This investigation identified a complete breakdown of
safety at Enbridge," NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in a
"Their employees performed like Keystone Kops and failed to
recognize their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump
crude into the environment."
The NTSB said the main failure of the pipeline was due to
multiple small "corrosion-fatigue cracks" that grew over time to
create a breach in the pipe over 80 inches long.
The rupture, which spilled crude unchecked for 17 hours,
has raised concern about pipeline safety in North America,
including Enbridge's planned oilsands pipeline from Alberta to
the British Columbia coast, as well as TransCanada's Keystone
pipeline in the United States.
"How can we trust Enbridge to build two pipelines safely
across nearly 800 rivers and streams in Alberta and British
Columbia?" asked Nikki Skuce at ForestEthics Advocacy, an
environmental group. "This company can not be trusted with our
wild salmon rivers."
Enbridge said in a statement it believed its personnel were
trying to do the "right thing" at the time.
"As with most such incidents, a series of unfortunate events
and circumstances resulted in an outcome no one wanted," said
Patrick Daniel, Enbridge's chief executive.
The U.S. pipeline regulator in early July slapped a $3.7
million fine on Enbridge, the largest it has ever imposed.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration,
or PHMSA, said its probe uncovered two dozen regulation
violations related to the leak on Enbridge's Line 6B near the
town of Marshall, about mid-way between Detroit and Lake
The accident shut down the pipeline for more than two months
and spawned a massive clean up that the company has estimated
will cost more than $700 million.
Following the Enbridge spill and other major pipeline
accidents, the Transportation Department enhanced its oversight
Last December, Congress passed a pipeline safety bill that
raised maximum fines and authorized an increase in the number of
NTSB said their investigation found that Enbridge failed to
accurately assess the integrity of the pipeline, including
analyzing cracks that required repair.
"Following the first alarm, Enbridge controllers restarted
Line 6B twice, pumping an additional 683,000 gallons of crude
oil, or 81 percent of the total amount spilled, through the
ruptured pipeline," the agency said.
The NTSB said there was a "culture of deviance" at Enbridge
where personnel were not adhering to approved procedures and
"Enbridge knew for years that this section of the pipeline
was vulnerable yet they didn't act on that information," said
The NTSB also cited PHSMA, the pipeline regulator, for weak
oversight and said it reiterated one recommendation to PHMSA and
issued 17 new safety recommendations as a result of the probe.
The Keystone Kops slapstick comedies were popular in
Hollywood's silent-film era and featured an incompetent police
force fighting crime.