TransCanada Whistleblower Spurs New Probe of Pipeline Giant's Safety Record

Based on evidence provided by a whistleblower, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) is investigating pipeline giant TransCanada—the company behind both the Keystone XL and Energy East proposals—for safety-code violations, according to exclusive reporting by the Reuters news agency.

The energy regulator, which just finished accepting close to 2,000 applications from people wishing to participate in hearings on TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline project, is reportedly looking into up to a dozen new allegations of pipeline safety-code violations—including “faulty or delayed repairs, sloppy welding work, and a failure to report key issues” to the nation’s energy regulator.

“Whistleblowers are extremely rare in this industry. The fact that there are now two raising such serious concerns combined with TransCanada’s horrible safety record should bring an unprecedented level of scrutiny from the National Energy Board.”
—Mark Calzavara, Council of Canadians

What’s more, notes Reuters, “it marks the second time in recent years the regulator has probed safety practices at Canada’s second-largest pipeline company following complaints by a whistleblower.”

TransCanada currently operates about 42,253 miles of natural gas pipelines across the continent, as well as the 2,639-mile section of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that has already been built. Several of those have ruptured in recent years.

In 2012, former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes blew the whistle on his employer as he raised concerns about the competency of some pipeline inspectors and the company’s lack of compliance with welding regulations set by the NEB.

The following year, the watchdog group Public Citizen reported that dozens of anomalies, including dents and welds, had been identified along a 60-mile stretch of the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, north of the Sabine River in Texas.

The current investigation also came to light via a different whistleblower who asked not to be identified but allowed Reuters to view correspondence between him or herself and the NEB.