Canadian Manufacturing

New pipeline safety rules include $1B liability limit irrespective of fault

Companies will continue to have unlimited liability when they are at fault or negligent under new pipeline safety regulations

QUEBEC—The Harper government has announced legislation it says is aimed at enhancing Canada’s pipeline safety system.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford says the new pipeline safety act builds on previous actions that have been taken to prevent incidents.

The latest measures in the legislation introduced in the Commons include absolute liability for all pipelines regulated by the National Energy Board.

That means companies would be liable for costs and damages irrespective of fault—as much as $1 billion for major oil pipelines.

They would continue to have unlimited liability when they are at fault or negligent.

The proposed legislation would give the NEB authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals.

It would also grant the NEB authority and resources to assume control of a response to any incident, in exceptional circumstances, if a company is unable or unwilling to do so.

Rickford announced the government’s latest actions in Quebec City, saying in a statement the federal government is committed to enhancing Canada’s world-class pipeline safety system.

A background paper says that currently, 99.999 per cent of the oil transported through 73,000 kilometres of federally regulated pipeline is completed safely—including 1,500 kilometres in Quebec.

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