Pipeline owner fined for unsafe incident near GO tracks in Greater Toronto

Pipeline owner fined for unsafe incident near GO tracks in Greater Toronto

CALGARY — The Canada Energy Regulator is fining Trans-Northern Pipelines $40,000 for an incident near a commuter train line in Greater Toronto that resulted in damage to a pipeline transporting gasoline.

It says the incident near Oakville could potentially have resulted in fatalities and injuries because the pipeline is located just 35 metres from rail track that serves the Lakeshore West branch of the commuter GO Train line.

In a statement on its website, the federal regulator says the company owned by Suncor Energy Inc., Shell Canada Ltd. and Imperial Oil Ltd. failed to follow proper safety procedures while performing maintenance on part of its refined products pipeline system that stretches from Nanticoke, Ont., to Montreal.

The CER says in August 2018 a crew from Trans-Northern exposed a 17-metre long section of buried 10-inch pipeline in order to cut out and replace part of it.

It exposed the 10-inch pipe and one end of an adjacent 16-inch pipe it also owns using a hydrovac truck (which uses pressurized water for non-destructive digging) but failed to expose the other end of the 16-inch pipe because the truck was full and couldn’t be used anymore.

Rather than waiting for the truck to empty and return, the decision was made to assume the rest of the 16-inch line was buried to the same depth and a contractor-operated backhoe was authorized to continue excavating. It hit the second pipeline and damaged it slightly. No leaks resulted.

“The average daily ridership in 2018 for this branch was approximately 31,900 persons per day,” the CER noted.

“A significant pipeline event could have led to fatalities and injuries, environmental damage, and damage to and delays on this commuter train line.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.

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