Last week we learned that The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued one of its largest fines to date. After further investigation, the NTSB determined that the probable cause of the pipeline rupture was corrosion fatigue cracks. The cracks grew along with the corrosion resulted in substantial defects. As a result, the polyethylene tape coating separated, and produced a large crude oil release.
The spill went undetected by the control center for over 17 hours, and the NTSB determined that this was caused by inadequate training of control center personnel. Enbridge personnel did not have a specific Federal spill plan to follow in case of such emergency. Had Enbridge establish a plan that met the Federal requirements, and then the spill would have not caused as much damage as it did.
Companies that want to avoid an Enbridge-like spill should set up a training program for their control center staff that takes place at least twice a year. Most importantly, to minimize a spill ensure that pipelines are secure; the staff should be provide a model with detailed step-by-step procedures for pipeline operators. It is imperative to evaluate the effect of interacting corrosion and crack threats on pipelines.