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Alberta defends pipeline safety record

June 20, 2012 at 7:26 AM

EDMONTON, Alberta, June 20 (UPI) -- Regulators in Alberta, Canada, defended their safety record though three oil pipelines have ruptured in the region this month.

The Canadian Energy Resources Conservation Board reported that around 1,400 barrels of oil spilled from an Enbridge pipeline near Edmonton. Another spill of around 5,000 barrels was reported by Pace Oil and Gas Ltd. near the border with the Northwest Territories.

Plains Midstream Canada reported a leak from its Rangeland pipeline system June 7 in Alberta. The pipeline wasn't in service at the time of the incident, though an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil leaked before the system was shutdown.

ERCB spokesman Darin Barter was quoted by Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail as saying the safety record for pipelines in Alberta was "fairly strong."

"I couldn't speculate on whether the province should or shouldn't call any sort of review of pipelines because I know our pipelines, at this point, we consider to be adequate," he said.

Barter said the track record may look unfavorable but that could be because provincial authorities have strict reporting protocols. There may be room, however, for some improvement, he said.

Simon Dyer, policy director at sustainable energy think tank Pembina Institute, said authorities in Alberta need to review pipeline safety given the high number of accidents.

"Pipeline spills are inevitable but the risks can be reduced through stronger regulation and practices," he told the newspaper.

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