Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Issue 36 - Evidence - February 7, 2013


OTTAWA, Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources met this day, at 8:01 a.m., to study the current state of the safety elements of the bulk transport of hydrocarbon products in Canada.

Senator Richard Neufeld (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. My name is Richard Neufeld. I represent the province of British Columbia in the Senate and I am the chair of this committee.

I would like to welcome all honourable senators, members of the public with us in the room, and viewers all across the country who are watching on television.

My able deputy chair, Senator Grant Mitchell, is from Alberta. I will start with introductions.

Senator Wallace: John Wallace, from New Brunswick.

Senator Johnson: Janis Johnson, from Manitoba.

Senator Brown: I am Bert Brown, from Alberta.

Senator Massicotte: Paul Massicotte, Quebec.

Senator Lang: Dan Lang from the Yukon.

Senator Ringuette: Pierrette Ringuette, New Brunswick.

The Chair: All senators know the file quite well so it will be interesting. We are all looking forward to having an opportunity for some questions and answers.

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce our clerk, Lynn Gordon, who has been with us as long as I have been here, and our two Library of Parliament analysts, Marc LeBlanc and Sam Banks.

On November 28, 2012, our committee was authorized by the Senate to initiate a study on the safe transportation of hydrocarbons in Canada. The study will examine and compare domestic and international regulatory regimes, standards and best practices relating to the safe transport of hydrocarbon products by transmission pipelines and marine tanker vessels and railcars.

The first portion of the study will focus on safety elements relating to transmission pipelines, defined generally as long-haul, large-diameter, high-pressure pipelines. The study will examine the roles of the regulators and industry in advancing the safety performance throughout the life cycle of transmission pipelines in Canada.

To date, the committee has held three meetings on the study. We have two panels today. In the first portion of our meeting it gives me pleasure to introduce, from the Canadian Standards Association, Laura Pelan, Manager, Standards; Kent Carlson, Project Manager, Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry Systems; and Doug Morton, Director, Government Relations.

I understand Mr. Morton that has some words he wants to begin with and then we will go to questions and answers. We have one hour for this panel.

Doug Morton, Director, Government Relations, CSA Group: Thank you, honourable senators. It is terrific to be here. I appreciate the opportunity to address the committee. I am the Director of Government Relations for Standards at CSA Group. With me are Laura Pelan, Manager, Standards and Kent Carlson, Project Manager, Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry Systems. He is responsible for the Z662 Technical Committee on Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems and Materials. Ms. Pelan was his predecessor in that role.

In the next few minutes, I will provide a brief overview of the standards division of CSA Group and, in particular, the petroleum and natural gas industry systems program, which is relevant to this committee.

I will describe our accredited standards development process and how the 662 standard was developed and maintained since first being published in 1994.

Finally, I will touch upon how this standard relates to similar U.S. and international standards on pipelines and how Canada influences the international work done in this subject area.

Established in 1919, CSA was the first and is the largest of the accredited standards development organizations in Canada. We are an independent, not-for-profit membership association, serving business, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace with over 3,000 published codes and standards. Our standards cover 54 different subject areas, including the environment, energy, quality management, health care, infrastructure to name a few.

We also have experience dealing with sensitive topics such as privacy and nuclear safety. Just two weeks ago we published the first standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Our standards are developed by our 7,500 members who are experts in their fields and sit on various technical committees dealing with each standard. Our approach is to develop those standards based on the principles of balanced representation and consensus. CSA also has a strong international presence. As authorized by the Standards Council of Canada, we administer several mirror committees and working groups on behalf of the International Organization for Standardization, commonly known as ISO. This includes a mirror committee on pipeline transportation systems for the petroleum and natural gas industries, which I will discuss in more detail in a few minutes.

Many of our standards have been harmonized with international standards. Other standards are derived from standards developed beyond our borders, but customized for the unique needs of Canada.

As I mentioned, CSA's standards development process is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, which is a transparent process founded on balanced representation and consensus. Technical committee members are selected to represent interest groups most likely to be affected by a standard.

CSA functions as a neutral third party, providing a structure and forum for developing standards, but it is the technical committee members who write and update those standards.

All of our standards are voluntary and only become mandatory when referenced by government or a regulatory authority.

Once published, standards are living documents, continually revised and refreshed to address changing requirements and emerging technologies.

Our standards development process includes seven distinct stages. I believe you have some of the material that was previously distributed in front of you. They include the proposal stage, the preparation committee, inquiry approval, publication and maintenance. At three different points along that continuum, public notification comes into play.

Looking specifically at the petroleum and natural gas industry systems program, we have been serving the needs of the petroleum and natural gas sector for over 45 years. Standards developed through the CSA petroleum and natural gas program represent the technical requirements for compliance with regulation, a testament to the strength of our renowned standards development process.

The standards serve as benchmarks for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of pipelines. They have been developed accusing multi-stakeholder processes which create a high level of continuity and confidence for the public.

Each of the petroleum and natural gas standards are incorporated by reference in provincial and federal regulations.

CSA has also developed standards in related areas of sustainability. Recently we published the world's first standard on geological storage of carbon dioxide. Our standards also help promote public safety in the sector. For example, we have published a standard called Security Management for Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry Systems, the first of its kind in North America.

Within our petroleum and natural gas systems program, each new edition of the 662 standard follows a process. First, public notice of intent to proceed with the project is published on CSA's website. Our staff, together with members of the committees involved, identify the resources needed to develop a working draft, such as potential seed documents and relevant international standards and practices, and then develop a project schedule. The technical committee and its 10 technical subcommittees, all facilitated by CSA staff, develop the draft. The draft is released for a 60-day public review and comment period. All comments received are reviewed and "dispositioned" by the technical subcommittees and the major technical committee. The draft is then submitted for internal review by CSA staff, as required by our operating procedures. The technical committee then approves the technical content of the draft, resolving any negative votes that may have been received. We conduct a final edit and review, and then we advance the standard to the Standards Council of Canada for recognition as a national standard of the country.

The standard is a living document. As such, it is maintained to keep it up to date and technically valid, which may include the publication of amendments or interpretations from time to time. The work of the committee is actually never done because as one standard is published, they start thinking about the next one, and we publish the standard every four years.

It is important to note that the high degree of process, transparency and predictability is seen by stakeholders a key strength of the standards development framework.

In addition to our established processes, another strength of ours lies in our membership base. As I mentioned, we work with multiple stakeholder committees made up of industry, government and general interest groups to develop the standard. For the 662 standard, approximately 250 experts serve on 30 committees to develop and maintain the 662 standard.

The current edition of the standard was published in English in June 2011, followed by the French publication in January 2012. It was granted National Standard of Canada status in September 2012.

The standard covers the design, construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas industry pipeline systems that transport the following: liquid hydrocarbons, including crude oil, multiphase fluids, condensate and liquid petroleum products; natural gas liquids and liquefied petroleum gas; oil-fuelled water and steam; carbon dioxide used in oil field-enhanced recovery schemes; and gas.

In addition to developing and publishing the standard, CSA Group offers training based on the 662. These courses range from a one-day overview program to comprehensive three-day offerings on specific sections of the standard.

I will now provide a brief overview of how the standard interacts and compares with the requirements of the U.S. and how we currently work at the international table.

In Canada, pipeline operators follow the 662 standard, which is referenced at both the provincial and federal levels, thereby giving it the force of law. It is up to each individual regulator to determine whether they want to reference the standard and if so, whether to reference it in whole or in part, or with deviations.

Currently, the standard is referenced by regulators such as the NEB and the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

As input to the development of 662, international practices, including those of the U.S., are benchmarked and the requirements of the CSA standard are aligned with those international practices, where applicable.

In the U.S., oil and gas companies must follow the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, parts 192 and 195, as well as all applicable state regulations. This code is developed and maintained by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which operates under the Department of Transportation. A variety of standards are incorporated by reference in part or in whole to Title 49.

In 2008, a report was prepared for the administration to compare U.S. and Canadian transmission pipeline consensus standards. The report, which is available on the administration website, notes that pipeline regulations in the U.S. and Canada rely largely on the partial or complete incorporation by reference of industry standards and that these standards are generally compatible regarding material and equipment issues.

It is important to note that although there might be differences in the Canadian and U.S. approaches, our respective processes are very stringent, and we cooperate on all key topics of importance to oil and gas pipeline systems. Furthermore, American experts sit on CSA committees and vice versa.

At the international level, the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, has a committee on the topic on materials, equipment and offshore structures for petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries. To provide input to this ISO committee, the Standards Council of Canada created what is called the Canadian Mirror Committee, which is comprised of experts from this committee, including a number of members of committees involved in the development and maintenance of our standard. The purpose of the mirror committee is to review proposals made by the ISO committees and provide a Canadian perspective so that our voice is heard at the international table.

CSA currently administers the Canadian Mirror Committee on pipeline transportation systems for the petroleum and natural gas industries and works to ensure that Canadian interests are represented at the international table. In addition, CSA members participate on the 16 active ISO working groups associated with pipeline transportation systems.

An important item to note is that any pipeline incidents that take place internationally are reviewed and considered at the CSA Technical Committee table.

In conclusion, I would like to once again thank you for the opportunity to be here today to address the committee and to speak about our process and our standard.

CSA's unique core competence provides a structure and forum for developing standards that protect the lives of Canadians, enhances business opportunities and positions Canada as one of the top standards development countries in the world.

In addition to the suite of expertise and knowledge that we have in oil and gas standards development, we also have outstanding standards and expertise in areas related to carbon capture and storage and protective equipment for workers. All of these varied subject areas, when combined together, make our standards development process so valuable and unique to the industry and to Canadians.

I hope this information has provided you with a picture of how CSA offers a process that works towards practical solutions in a way that is balanced, transparent, open and subject to public review.

My colleagues and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That was very good. I will start out with a few questions and then defer to my colleagues.

I think it is important for people who might be listening to understand that to develop these standards you work with industry, consumers and regulatory bodies, which is to say governments. Correct me if I am wrong there. Are those the three main ones that you would work with?

Mr. Morton: Yes. We also work with academia, but industry, government and consumers are the major three.

The Chair: I understand the regulator part and the industry part, but who represents the consumers?

Mr. Morton: That is a good question. As I mentioned in my remarks, we want to ensure that, on our committees, anybody who will be impacted by a standard has a voice at the table. When we develop health care standards, for example, we want to ensure that there are consumers at the table because they will ultimately be affected by it.

We did not have consumer representatives on this particular standard development. However, they are an important voice to be heard, depending on the nature of the standard that we are developing.

The Chair: Regarding when you go out with the results, I think you said you go out for a 60-day period. Do you get any response from the average consumer, not someone who is in a regulatory body? For instance, if we are talking about health care, then about health care? Do you ever get responses from individuals?

Mr. Morton: Absolutely. Again, depending on the nature of the standard, if a standard is fairly routine, when we go to public review we may get a number of comments.

The psychological health and safety standard that I referred to in my remarks that we published two weeks ago generated, I believe, close to 900 comments from a variety of stakeholders across the country, but we do hear from every nature of stakeholder.

The Chair: That is very good to know. Second, how are you funded?

Mr. Morton: We are funded in a variety of ways. This is one thing that makes CSA a bit unique. Some of our programs are entirely funded. For example, the standards we write for the nuclear sector are entirely funded by the major organizations involved in that sector. In health care, for example, we might be funded by various industry groups. It really varies. In some cases we do not get any funding for a standard but we believe the standard will demonstrate social value, so we invest in that on our own. The range of funding models is actually quite extensive.

The Chair: Would it be fair to say that you get funding from a broad enough spectrum that there would be no waiting at all on industry or government or anything else in the decisions that you make? I am not saying that you would do that, but I think it is important for the public to know those kinds of things, that you are funded broadly, if I understand your response.

Mr. Morton: You are right, but you raise a good point, senator. The major thing that I talked about in my remarks is that we have a very balanced approach.

Let us assume, for example, that a government department was completely funding the development of one of our standards. Because we have a balanced matrix approach in our committees, even though they are funding it they only get one vote. We ensure that no one company, industry or government department can dominate the process.

The Chair: That is very good to know. The public needs to know those things because we always hear stories that industry funding is it so it is all to their advantage. I am pleased with that response.

I will quickly move on to another item, namely, incidents that you say occur internationally. That would be anywhere else but in Canada. Do you review all of them or do you pick and choose some that might have some relative things that could happen in Canada?

Mr. Morton: I will defer to my colleagues?

Laura Pelan, Manager, Standards, CSA Group: The committees will look at anything that is brought to the table, but usually by a member of the committee. For example, let us take the San Bruno pipeline rupture. A number of recommendations were put out by the NTSB. Those are all being reviewed by our subcommittees to look at whether the requirements that we have in our standard are sufficient, examining all the recommendations to see whether or not we would adhere to those as well.

Senator Mitchell: Clearly, your standards address hard physical things. In the case of pipelines, it would be the thickness of pipelines, the quality of tape that wraps them, the nature of the welds and that kind of thing. They also address softer issues like training standards, I see. Is that true? Is that what you folks do?

Kent Carlson, Project Manager, Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry Systems, CSA Group: The standard does address technical requirements such as those that you offered. It also addresses things like management systems, for example, ensuring that incidents that happen in the industry are learned from. There is continuous improvement to ensure that companies have proper training programs and things like that.

Senator Mitchell: That is very interesting. That actually addresses exactly my next question.

Mr. Caron, Chair of the National Energy Board, was here. He made an interesting point. A lot of what they look at is the whole structure of the management system. Safety comes from management systems. He said that at some point we might have standards by which we could audit the culture of safety. That intrigued me because it is people who make these things safe ultimately. You then think of Kalamazoo where for 12 hour or 17 hours they were getting messages that they were not seen. Is this something that you would work on and establish standards for a culture of safety and that you could actually begin to also establish standards or processes by which that culture of safety could be audited?

Mr. Morton: Absolutely. We write occupational health and safety standards, for example. They are management standards. They not only deal with how to recognize potential hazards that workers may face but also how to put programs in place and how to measure those issues. We actually do that in a range of standards. We call those management standards. They are very comprehensive. Particularly with health and safety standards, we have been involved in those standards for many, many years.

Senator Mitchell: How do you integrate a new technology? For example, a pipeline company comes with technology that would make everything much safer but it is somewhat more expensive than what they would like to spend money on. How would you even know about that technology and get to the point where you would insist that it becomes the standard?

Mr. Morton: First, CSA does not determine what becomes a standard; our stakeholders do. We respond to them.

I mentioned some of the areas in which we write standards, but we are also a significant player when it comes to what we call emerging technologies. For example, we are playing a key role at the international table and the Canadian table right now on nanotechnology. Interestingly enough, our first standards out of nanotechnology relate to occupational health and safety. We are also dealing with technologies like the smart grid, electric vehicles, et cetera. We just signed a contract with NRCan to develop electrical vehicle recharging station standards.

Standards are sometimes looked at as the incubation or R & D arm of CSA. We do a lot of investigation. We work with the international community to understand those technologies and how ultimately they should evolve to standards so that we can be a better resource to our stakeholders.

Senator Mitchell: I was going to ask if you could develop some standards for the quality of debate in Parliament.

The Chair: I do not know whether you would adhere to them.

Senator Mitchell: I could help you with that.

Senator Lang: I would like to follow up and clarify for the record a question that Senator Neufeld touched on. You are an independent organization, not beholden to any particular stakeholder. You operate independently and, therefore, no vested interest can be put to you or allegations can be put to your organization. Is that correct?

Mr. Morton: That is correct, senator.

Senator Lang: That leads me to the next question. One of the reasons we are having these hearings is because of the debate in Canada today about the safety of pipelines and also whether or not, in the long term, pipelines should continue to be built in this country in respect to transportation of our fossil fuels.

Day in and day out we hear statements being made by those in opposition to the construction of pipelines on the safety of the installation of pipelines and the question of the risk involved with pipelines, yet seldom do we hear from organizations such as yours when these statements are made, clarifying the record in respect to exactly how safe these pipelines are and how you minimize the risk involved in the running of a pipeline. Why are you not more active in public relations so that the public is aware of what your organization does and also aware of all the research you have done so that the public can make up its own mind in respect to the risk factor involved with pipelines?

Mr. Morton: That is an interesting question. We have been, as I mentioned in my remarks, in existence for 94 years. Most people in the country, I think, recognize what CSA is in some way, even if it is just the CSA certification mark on the bottom of their toaster. However, they do not fully understand some of the breadth that I have talked to you about today. One of the things we are doing is becoming much more active in how we promote ourselves and make people aware, particularly at the federal government level. I have been in my current role since February of last year. One of the motivations for creating my job was to make sure that people at the federal government level understood what the CSA story actually was and where we do make a contribution.

With respect to your specific point about pipeline incidents, as you have heard from Mr. Caron of the NEB, standards are one part of managing pipelines, management systems, quality systems, operational processes, et cetera. There is more to pipelines than just standards. Certainly, when incidents are raised, it is the companies involved or the regulators involved that are primarily front and centre. We typically do not take a role in that sort of debate. If we are asked or if an issue comes up related to our standard, we certainly address it.

For example, I mentioned that we write standards in occupational health and safety. Obviously, issues happen in the workplace, accidents happen, and sometimes people lose their lives. One of the things that I saw in my previous role — I ran the occupational health and safety group — were the coroner's reports, for example, for accidents that take place. Any time there is a recommendation with respect to a standard, we pay attention to that and we certainly respond in that way. However, when it comes to pipeline issues, you are absolutely right; we rely on industry and the regulators to deal with those issues.

Senator Lang: I would think that public relations would be part of your responsibilities in respect to these standards. The fact that you are independent gives you that much more credence rather than a proponent of a pipeline that is proposing to build a pipeline.

As an organization, are you requested to appear before these environmental assessment boards, for example, the Northern Gateway, in respect to bringing forward your knowledge, what you expect your standards are and what those standards will achieve in the long term? Do you actually participate?

Mr. Morton: Not that we are aware of, no.

Senator Lang: It would seem to me that an organization such as yours might be valuable from the point of view of informing the public exactly what standards are required and why those standards are there because I do not know who else would be speaking on your behalf.

Mr. Morton: Certainly, if we were ever invited to such a hearing, we would be more than happy to participate, to explain the role that we do play. I looked at Mr. Caron's remarks from the other day, and he referred to our standard as something that the NEB, for example, refers to and relies on in part. We would be more than happy to appear if it would help facilitate the process.

Senator Lang: It would seem to me that you do not have to be invited. You can ask to intervene and appear before a hearing. You may want to consider doing that because what you have just said here is very valuable.

Mr. Morton: Thank you, senator.

Senator Ringuette: For our viewers, I would like make a correction. Our mission here is to look at all forms of bulk transportation of hydrocarbons, not only pipelines.

With regard to bulk transportation, we have tankers, pipelines, rail lines, trucking and so forth. Do we have standards for all these bulk modes of transportation?

Ms. Pelan: We have standards on transportation of dangerous goods, but it is in a different group, so I do not have a lot more information than that. For oil and gas, we deal with the pipelines, and that is the transportation.

Senator Ringuette: Do you not establish standards for rail transportation, truck transportation or tanker transportation?

Mr. Morton: As Ms. Pelan said, senator, there are nine standards that Transport Canada references in its regulations dealing with transportation of dangerous goods. CSA writes all of those standards for them, but not specifically for petroleum. I think you would have to refer to Transport Canada.

Senator Ringuette: Transport Canada has asked you to provide standards for only transportation of oil via pipeline.

Mr. Morton: No, the pipeline standards were done for the oil and gas sector. Transportation of dangerous goods is done with Transport Canada.

Senator Ringuette: Would that include the different modes that I have mentioned earlier?

Mr. Morton: Certainly, Transport Canada looks after rail and marine transportation. We primarily look after the transportation of dangerous goods over road, I assume.

Senator Ringuette: Therefore, you would establish the standards for trucking of oil.

Mr. Morton: Correct. That is my understanding, senator.

Senator Ringuette: Do you have an automatic upgrading of standards, or how is it triggered?

Mr. Morton: As I mentioned in my remarks, with this particular standard dealing with pipelines, we renew the standard every four years. We are required to renew a standard under our Standards Council of Canada guidelines at least every five years. In the case of pipelines, we do it in four years.

We also write, for example, the Canadian Electrical Code, and because it changes so often, we republish it every three years. The committee makes the determination as to how frequently the standard should be published.

Senator Ringuette: You have a time frame in which you upgrade and review the current standard.

Mr. Morton: That is right. We cannot let them go more than five years without renewing them.

Senator Ringuette: For instance, with regard to pipelines, it is an automatic review every five years.

Mr. Morton: In this case, it is every four years. That is correct.

Senator Ringuette: For pipelines in particular, would that include standards for the design, construction, material, the operation and maintenance, all the different phases of the pipeline?

Mr. Morton: Yes. Anything in the standard is renewed every four years. I think the table of contents for the standard is something like 15 pages long. It is a very extensive standard. All of it is considered every four years.

Senator Ringuette: In the last 10 years with regard to the particular standards that we are looking at for pipelines, certainly there has been an upgrade of the standards, but have there been any questions from the general public or particular consumer groups?

Mr. Carlson: That is a good question. I am not aware. I would have to check and get back to you. Typically, the questions that we get are from committee members or people who work in the industry who are familiar with the technology.

Senator Ringuette: If you are not aware with regard to consumer groups, have you re-looked at upgrading the standards based on a leakage?

Ms. Pelan: It would be an incident, so if the leak was an incident, it would be looked at by the appropriate technical subcommittee responsible for that section of the standard. If it was a material issue, then our material subcommittee that looks at the entire clause 5 of the Z662 standard would look at what happened and whether there is a change needed in our minimum requirements that we put in our standard.

Senator Ringuette: That would trigger a review before the four-year process.

Ms. Pelan: Exactly, yes.

Senator Ringuette: Has that occurred in the last 10 years?

Ms. Pelan: We have issued amendments, yes. If a safety issue is brought up before the four-year cycle, before the publication of every four years, we will issue an amendment to address any type of changes in technology or to address an incident or a safety requirement that needs to be changed in the standard. At that point, we would issue an amendment to the standard.

Senator Massicotte: Just to go back to the questions our chair offered, I think this is so important. This is highly technical. We are not experts in your field, so I want to go into how it was created. I want to be more specific.

When you created the CSA Z662, could you tell us who specifically was on the committee, who represented the consumer, who represented the government and so on? Could you give us more specific details as to the composition of the committee?

Mr. Morton: I can tell you there were almost 50 members on the committee. They ranged from representatives of oil and gas companies to provincial and federal regulators. The NEB sat at the board and a number of provincial regulators sat at the committee. I think there were pipefitters. There was a range of stakeholders, but about 50 members of the committee.

Senator Massicotte: Of the 50, how many were regulators and how many were consumers? Could you give us the breakdown?

Mr. Morton: I would be more than happy to make a list of the members available and how they break down.

The Chair: If you would, please send it to the clerk.

Senator Massicotte: When you come back with those details, can you tell us who funded the research costs in that particular case? Do you keep track of the votes? You say it is by consensus. Everyone must agree?

Mr. Morton: No. Consensus means the majority agree. Everyone does not have to agree.

Senator Massicotte: Could you come back with the Z662 standard and how they voted?

Mr. Morton: We do not publish that information because of the privacy of the committee, so we cannot tell you how individuals voted if that is what you are looking for.

Senator Massicotte: If you can send us that information, we would appreciate it.

In your presentation you also referenced information about U.S. and Canadian standards. You never make a comment. You say they worked hard together to reach consensus. Regarding Z662, how do our standards compare to the American and European standards? Is it similar quality, same result, better or worse?

Mr. Carlson: A 2008 NEB report deals with that. We could forward you that report.

Senator Massicotte: What does the report say, approximately?

Mr. Carlson: I have one quote here on the 2008 report: ". . . has shown fewer pipe body liquid releases than reference organizations almost every year since 2000." That was in comparison to the U.S. and European pipelines.

Senator Massicotte: We heard that conclusion yesterday, and I think that is accurate. However, were also told yesterday that while our frequencies were less frequent, the volume of oil and gas leaked is approximately the same. It is funny how you can write a different conclusion. In your mind, do you think our standards seem to be superior to the American and European standards, if you think that quote is accurate?

Mr. Morton: I am not sure I would necessarily say "superior." As I mentioned in my remarks, our respective processes are stringent and rely on incorporation of standards. I think the codes on both sides of the border are strong. I am not in a position of saying one is better than the other.

Senator Johnson: When did your organization come into being?

Mr. Morton: I think I said 1919.

Senator Johnson: Could you give me examples of your membership?

Mr. Morton: Since we deal in so many different areas of technology, we have about 7,500 members across the country representing health care, energy, electrical, occupational health and safety. They are from a variety of fields.

Senator Johnson: What would your membership numbers be? How many groups would be in your organization and what is the size of your board?

Mr. Morton: Our membership is all volunteers. CSA Standards is an organization of about 170 people. We are based largely in Toronto, although we have an office in Ottawa and facilities across the country. At CSA Group, our mother organization, we have 1,700 people. Those folks are largely in North America, but we also have a strong presence from a certification and testing side, product safety side, in Asia and Europe.

Senator Johnson: As my colleague Senator Lang said, it would be good to know more about you. The public would find it more helpful if you were out there about bit more about this, especially these days when the issue is so important.

I want to go over to the Canada-U.S. side. I chair the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group. We go to Washington a lot and talk about these things. You mentioned our systems are different but highly integrated. What are the standards differences between the two countries? Also, how are they accommodated?

Ms. Pelan: What are the standard differences?

Senator Johnson: Are there differences in the standards between Canada and the United States?

Ms. Pelan: It is not really within my expertise to know the U.S. standards very well. I can certainly defer to the National Energy Board's report that Mr. Carlson mentioned. I believe there was a link provided in the discussion paper, where they looked at comparing those two standards. Specifically, they focused on 662 in Canada and ASME B31.8, which was the standard mainly identified in that report.

Senator Johnson: That might also talk about the differences present. Do these differences present any pipeline safety issues, which is another concern of ours?

Ms. Pelan: The board works closely with the PHMSA in the States and recognize the need to work closely. Pipelines cross the border, so they understand that.

Senator Johnson: There is so much going on between the two countries, Keystone, et cetera. I was wondering if you could enlighten me further on that for our committee and our study.

Mr. Morton: We will certainly re-send that link to the clerk so you have reference to it.

Senator Wallace: Mr. Morton, as you point out, the CSA has developed a standard for design, construction, and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines with the CSA Z662 standard. That is reassuring, I guess, and comforting. It is adopted by regulation federally and provincially. There is a standard across the country. However, beneath that, I am wondering about the detail that your standards would get into in terms of design, construction and maintenance. When I say that, I am thinking of the different terrains and geographic conditions over which these pipelines can pass. They are built in the North on muskeg and they pass under waterways. There would be different challenges and technical requirements. Do the standards get into the type of detail whereby you would prescribe a different standard of design, depending on where the pipeline would be constructed or located?

Ms. Pelan: The standard provides minimum requirements. It is meant to lean toward the performance-based approach. However, there are requirements and it will get into talking about cover, clearance, et cetera, when they are talking about design of pipelines. It certainly takes into consideration the unique climate that Canada has. That is why we have maintained our own Canadian standard; we recognize the need for our own climate.

Senator Wallace: There is no one-size-fits-all in Canada. There is a big difference running a pipeline over the prairie versus in the Northwest Territories, the Yukon. Within the standard, if you were developing a line in the muskeg in the Northwest Territories, could you look to the standard and find out what had to be done in that area that would differ from a pipeline in conditions that would not be as severe?

Ms. Pelan: I believe those requirements are in the standard, where you will have the factors of temperature ranges. Again, unfortunately I am not a technical expert on the standard, but I believe those requirements are in there.

Mr. Carlson: There are different design requirements depending on the environment the pipeline is running through.

Senator Wallace: When pipeline incidents occur, the location of shut-off valves is very important — the type of valve, whether it is electronic, manual, and where it is located — so if there is a loss you could at least be limited to the length of pipe between two shut-offs. Do the standards get down into that type of detail that would prescribe the type of shut-offs that would have to be located on lines and, depending in what geographic area the lines might be located, where they would have to be located, the distance apart, and whether they be manual or electronic? If they are electronic, they can be shut down far more quickly than if you have to fly a helicopter into the North to manually shut off a line that could be frozen. Do you get into those details?

Ms. Pelan: Yes, the standard does go into that level of details. I cannot quote exactly what those requirements are.

Senator Wallace: No. It is just for us to get a sense of it and to educate us as to the level of detail. We know there is a standard. We are looking to have comfort with the type of detail.

Ms. Pelan: Yes, they do carry that level of detail in them, and that is what allows the National Energy Board to reference that as their requirement.

Mr. Morton: To go back to your earlier question, the standard deals with what happens if you are dealing with crossing water with a pipeline. It deals with those kinds of issues. Again, we refer to it as a standard, but it is really more of a code, a 500-page document that goes into considerable detail on some of the issues you raised.

Senator Wallace: As you said, construction detail such as passing under a river could be quite different.

Mr. Morton: Absolutely.

Senator Wallace: That is reassuring.

Senator Brown: I am interested to know if you develop standards for requiring replacement of pipe in homes and buildings where the actual use of the natural gas ends up.

Mr. Morton: Those standards are developed by us. They are not developed within the petroleum group, but we develop those, yes.

Senator Brown: Is there a scale of years of when pipes should be replaced, or do they have to be replaced when something happens?

Mr. Morton: I would have to check into that, senator. I do not know the answer to that question.

Senator Brown: I am very interested because I have seen it happen in rural areas at different stages.

Mr. Morton: In talking to you before this session started, I think you might have more expertise on some of those issues than us.

Senator Lang: I want to pursue a comparison of our standards with other parts of world. We have talked about the United States, and Europe was mentioned very briefly. Europe and Russia have pipelines. How do our standards compare to the European and Russian standards? Are they comparable, or do we know?

Mr. Carlson: I apologize. I do not know the answer to that question. We can check back with our members and see if we can get an answer for you.

Senator Lang: The other question I have is the following: In the past 15 years, there has been a rupture in a pipeline and your standards have had to be revised. In implementing a change in your standard, have you found that you have had to replace some pipelines as a result?

Mr. Morton: I do not think that would be in our purview to answer. You would have to talk to either the regulators or the oil and gas companies. That is not within our purview, senator.

Senator Patterson: I note from your presentation that you investigate incidents with a view to learning from them. We also heard from the National Energy Board that they do the same. Could you describe what the relationship might be between the regulator and the CSA in relation to post-mortems on incidents? Perhaps there are other relationships that we might know about between the regulator and you. It seems you are closely connected in that you set the standards that the regulator then applies and enforces. Could you outline that relationship?

Mr. Morton: As I mentioned, our technical committee is comprised of a variety of stakeholders, including the NEB, provincial regulators and experts from the field. As Ms. Pelan mentioned, the committee does look at incidents that have occurred to see if there are any implications for our standards and whether aspects of our standards need to be changed. Since the regulators are part of the committee, they bring that intelligence back to the committee, where it is discussed and dispositioned.

Senator Patterson: Both the regulator and your committee might be reviewing incidents with a view to what can be learned, and sharing the information; is that correct?

Mr. Morton: That is correct. We would be looking at those incidents at the committee level with respect to the standard. The regulators may be looking at incidents in a very different perspective in their own jurisdictions. However, at the committee table, we would be looking at it with respect to the standard.

Senator Mitchell: In the report tabled last week by the environmental commissioner for the Auditor General, he makes the point that oil and gas exploration and drilling activities are currently exempt from reporting pollutant releases to Environment Canada. Would that be an area where you might establish standards or would that not be the case? It is hard to believe that is the case at this point.

Mr. Morton: I am not familiar with the report, senator. We certainly write standards related to the environment, but I am not familiar with that particular reference.

Senator Mitchell: I draw that to your attention because it is interesting they do not have to report something that is released by mistake in exploration and drilling.

To follow up on Senator Patterson's point about post-mortem analysis and your point earlier, did you or would you do a post-mortem analysis on the Kalamazoo spill, or would you work with your U.S. equivalents to look at what happened in that case, particularly with respect to the problems that seem to be sort of a human error on analyzing the monitoring system that said there may have been a leak but the response was not —

Mr. Morton: It would not be our responsibility to do that. Again, if there were any findings from that review that had implications back to the standard, we would hear about that through the regulators coming back to the table. However, we would not look at it independently.

Senator Mitchell: That could well be the case, because they have reported and it might filter through to you at some point.

Mr. Morton: That would be the process.

Senator Ringuette: With regard to insurance companies, the standards that you establish would be very important to them in the case of an incident and liability. Are they usually part of your groups, or what is the relationship between CSA and liability insurance?

Mr. Morton: There is no direct relationship. I do not know if anyone from the insurance sector was involved in the committee. We will look at that when we look at the committee.

I think there are some committees of CSA that representatives of the Insurance Bureau of Canada are part of. I can certainly find out for you very quickly. With respect to this particular issue, I am not sure, senator.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate your time — we know it is valuable — and we appreciate the answers very much. I think we had a good opportunity to ask questions.

It is now my great pleasure to introduce our witnesses from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada: Wendy Tadros, Chair; Jean Laporte, Chief Operating Officer; and Kirby Jang, Director of Investigations Rail/Pipeline.

One of you will give a brief presentation and we will go to questions and answers.

Wendy A. Tadros, Chair, Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB): Good morning, honourable senators. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. We will provide you with some background on the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the work we do, with particular emphasis on our pipeline statistics, our investigations, their findings and the status of our recommendations.

I have with me today two colleagues who have a great deal of experience. Mr. Jean Laporte is the Chief Operating Officer at the Transportation Safety Board. He has been with the board since its inception in 1990 and he has a broad understanding of our mandate and the processes that we follow.

Mr. Kirby Jang is our director for rail and pipeline investigations. He is responsible for all the investigations in rail and pipeline throughout Canada. He is well placed to discuss particular pipeline investigations, the responses to our investigation, recommendations, and the statistics we hold on pipeline accidents and incidents.

Between the three of us, we should be able to answer most of the questions that you have.

Let me begin briefly by talking about our purpose. The TSB was created by Parliament in 1990, and the intervening years we have built an international reputation as a leader in independent accident investigation. Our sole purpose is to advance transportation safety. We do this by investigating, no matter whether the accident occurred on our waterways, along our pipelines or railways, or in our skies.

In the course of our work, we also gather statistics on accidents and incidents, which we then use to determine if there are systemic issues that warrant further action.

The TSB does not keep a constant scan on industry to ensure the safety of the pipeline system. That is the role of the regulator, the National Energy Board. We speak through our investigations. If you will, investigations are our lens.

When our investigations are complete, we inform the public about what happened and why, and suggest solutions to help ensure history will not repeat itself and the system will be safer.

With proposals for new pipelines and news of spills south of the border, pipeline safety is increasingly becoming a matter of concern for Canadians.

What have we found through our lens? As a snapshot, in 2012, 175 pipeline occurrences — that is, accidents and incidents — were reported to the TSB. They range from minor releases to the kinds of things you read about in the newspapers, like the flash fire at a Spectra Energy compressor station, which injured two workers, or the rupture of a sour gas pipeline, which created a forest fire northwest of Fort St. John.

Fortunately, most pipeline occurrences are incidents involving only minor releases. In 2012, only seven reported occurrences were accidents, compared with five in 2011, and a five-year average of nine. The numbers for accidents are very low.

When we are notified of an occurrence, we collect the initial information and determine whether to deploy to the site to assess the occurrence in more detail. After an initial assessment, we decide if a full investigation is warranted. Generally speaking, we investigate those occurrences where we have the very most to learn. In making that determination, we follow our occurrence classification policy — a policy that is in place for all of our investigations in all four modes.

The policy guides the decision, which hinges on whether there is a significant potential for reducing future risks to persons, property or the environment, and consequently, whether there is a high probability that safety will be advanced.

When we do investigate, we take a systematic approach to all our investigations. We run the gamut of issues from the immediate causes of the accident to the risks that Canadians may encounter. We do all of this to learn lessons to make the system safer.

The key to carrying out our mandate is our people — the men and women who work at the TSB. These people are specialists in investigations, pipeline operations, engineering, metallurgy and human factors, to name just a few. They are focused professionals who provide the board with the information it needs to make its recommendations — recommendations that can be credited with changing the way pipelines are operated and maintained and with improving the way they are designed, built, inspected and repaired.

Along the way, if we find unsafe conditions, we do not wait for our final report to make them known; we act immediately by communicating with those who can make transportation safer.

There are a number of tools that we use to communicate risks. We may choose to send safety advisories or safety information letters, as we did with a slope failure in April 2012, affecting an oil pipeline in Toronto. It may be through safety recommendations during or at the end of the investigation, as we did following the July 1995 natural gas pipeline rupture near Rapid City, Manitoba, where we recommended that the NEB reassess the design of emergency shutdown systems to mitigate the damage of a ruptured line.

In all our investigations, the test for whether we make recommendations is twofold. First, is the risk high? Second, is it a systemic risk?

This being said, when we make recommendations, we do not impose changes on the transportation industry or the regulators. Solutions to safety are a shared responsibility among many players, and our job is to make a convincing case for change.

In comparison with the other modes that we investigate, the number of pipeline occurrences, and therefore the number of investigations, is relatively low. Of the 50 to 60 investigations we undertake every year, only one or two are pipeline investigations.

To give you a 23-year snapshot, since its inception in 1990, the TSB has investigated 45 pipeline occurrences. Forty- three of those are completed, and we have provided that list to you, and two are still under way. Since 1990, we have issued 20 pipeline safety recommendations. We also provided you with a list of those recommendations.

We track the action that is taken. We actively monitor the responses to our recommendations and clearly communicate our assessment of those responses to the public and to those who can improve safety.

For our pipeline recommendations, all have led to concrete actions by industry and regulators to mitigate the risks we have found and to thereby improve the system safety. All of the responses — 100 per cent — have received our highest rating of "fully satisfactory." This means that the action that has been taken has substantially reduced or eliminated the safety deficiency. If you compare this with the rest of the body of our work, we are sitting right now at 72 per cent for all of the recommendations that we have made since we began in 1990. If you compare that with 100 per cent in pipeline, I think that is a very impressive record.

In fact, in 2010, when the board defined its watch list, the transportation issues posing the greatest risk to Canadians, no pipeline issues made it onto the watch list and none were added when we updated this list in 2012. I think the dearth of pipeline issues on our watch list and the response rate of industry and regulators to our recommendations speaks to a proactive pipeline industry with a generally strong safety culture.

I really wish we had the same uptake in some other areas of our work, particularly in aviation.

Senator Mitchell: Would you say that again?

The Chair: I fly a lot.

Ms. Tadros: The uptake on the recommendations is not nearly as high, and I think it would be hard to meet that benchmark of 100 per cent in pipeline.

Our recommendations are only part of the picture. Another thing we look at through our lens is statistical accident and incident analysis. A pipeline accident is a situation where a person sustains a serious injury or is killed or where a pipeline sustains damage affecting its safe operation or resulting in the increase of a fair amount of commodity. This includes explosions, fires or ignitions that are not associated with normal operations.

In contrast, pipeline incidents are less serious events. The complete definitions we use are included in the statistical information package that we provided to you, but as I mentioned previously, seven accidents were reported to the TSB in 2012. This compares to an average of eight accidents per year for the period of 2004 to 2012, and an average of 21 accidents per year for the period 1990 to 2003. You can see that since 2003 the number of accidents has been coming down significantly, and it has remained stable year over year in the last number of years.

We also note that approximately two thirds of the accidents involve the transportation of gas, which means that only two or three accidents per year involve the transportation of oil.

A total of 168 incidents were also reported in 2012. As I said earlier, these are the more minor, much less serious occurrences. It compares to an average of 53 incidents per year from the period 2004 to 2012 and an average of 32 incidents per year for the period 1990 to 2003. These statistics reveal a significant increase in the number of reported incidents.

What does that mean, if anything? Well, we are not sure just yet, but the TSB has begun a detailed analysis to try to understand the reasons behind this increase in minor incidents. Our initial look at the data revealed that the vast majority of these incidents involved the release of less than 1 cubic meter of product, primarily at facilities and not from the transmission pipelines.

We will now drill down and look more closely at that data, and we plan to speak with the pipeline companies to identify the reasons for the increase in these small releases. Although it is too early to tell for sure, some of the contributing factors may be the expansion of federally regulated pipelines, the implementation of changes in operating practices, an increased number of inspections or detection and increased reporting of incidents. More are being captured. However, as I said, we will have to look at this issue in a lot more detail.

This is what we know today, based on 20-plus years of work. What does that say about the future? If pipelines in Canada have, by and large, been safe in the past 20 years, will they be safe in the future? Will new pipelines meet the highest standards? Will older pipelines withstand the rigours of nature and continue to hold their products? The short answer is we cannot tell you with absolute certainty. That is where the limitation of our lens comes in. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada looks back. We analyze what happened, and we try to ensure the problems we find will be fixed. If new problems emerge, the TSB will pick them up only in later investigations. That is our role.

I can tell you that we will continue to investigate, that we will find the causes and contributing factors of pipeline accidents and that we will not hesitate to make recommendations when we think improvements need to be made.

However, having said this, I am fully aware that this only answers part of the questions for you. It is only by layering the different perspectives of other witnesses, including the NEB, with ours, that you will create a complete picture of the safety of transporting hydrocarbons by pipeline.

In closing, it is my hope that our independence, steadfast processes and the scientific accuracy of our work have fostered public trust in the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The more our work is understood by parliamentarians and Canadians, the more insight they will have into how we help ensure a strong and safe transportation system.

I hope the information we have provided to you will be helpful, and we are prepared to answer any of your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much. That was very interesting and quite topical. I will start with a couple of questions.

You provided us a list of documents, or at least I got this along with my information; I assume it came from you. You talked about release of liquids and that whether it is natural gas or oil is important. I want to check to ensure I am reading these tables correctly. I will use 2011 because that is the graph I have here.

In 2011, there were five accidents. That is on table 4, page 9. This would be from compressor stations, gathering lines, injection delivering facilities, meter stations, gas processing plants, pump stations, storage facility terminals and transmission lines.

When I go to the graph on the next page, it indicates where the release was from. Two were from natural gas and two were from petroleum crude oil.

The important one for me, if I am reading this right, and I will ask you to help me a bit, is the next table regarding the incidents by quantity released to the environment. Three out of those five were less than a cubic meter, and one was 26 to 1,000 cubic metres.

I found another graph that showed me how much natural gas and how much oil was transported in all of those systems in our pipeline system, and I think I have the right graph. You will have to help me here because you get into exajoules. It says in 2011 there were 7.3 exajoules of oil and 5.6 exajoules of gas. I know the gas would probably be about 6 trillion cubic feet for the year 2011.

Can you give me some sense so the public can understand this? I do not understand exajoules and most of the public does not. How many million barrels of oil would that represent when the spill rate was the two that I talked about? I think it is important for the public also to know that we have a very safe system, thanks in large part to you folks and what you and the Canadian safety standards do and all those kinds of things. When people are opposed to pipelines, they talk about breaks and say it is thousands and thousands of barrels of oil or a huge amount of natural gas. If I read these graphs right, that is not correct. Could you help me through that a bit to ensure I understand your graphs correctly?

Kirby Jang, Director, Investigations Rail/Pipeline, Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB): Certainly, Mr. Chair. I thank you for that question.

In terms of looking at the activity within the industry, we attempted to come up with a common unit. You are absolutely right that the unit exajoule is not a well-known unit. In fact, I am not sure myself what the actual conversion rates are. That allows us to look at the trends over a 20-year period in this case to see whether or not activity has increased.

In terms of spills that do occur, obviously, the larger spills are quite rare. The majority of our reports refer to spills in terms of metric cubes in terms of volumes or possibly barrels.

The Chair: Can I ask you, then, to send to the clerk how many millions of barrels of oil would have gone through the system in 2011? Just convert the exajoules that you have in your report for oil and also the amount of trillion cubic feet for natural gas. That will bring it down to something I can understand and I think a lot of public will start to understand.

Mr. Jang: Sure, we will look into that for you.

The Chair: The amount that has been spilled is very little and that is all I am trying to get at. I think we have a very safe system.

Senator Massicotte: Do you mean compared to the total volume being transported? I agree.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you very much for being here. I am referring in my question to the December 2011 report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. In that report, he makes the case in chapter 1, page 14, that:

Transport Canada does not conduct an adequate, timely review when approving emergency response assistance plans.

He goes on to point out that:

. . . of the 926 ERAPs in place, 473 have received indefinite approval from Transport Canada and 453 have received interim approval. Of the 453 ERAPs with interim approval, almost 50 percent of these approvals were provided over 5 years ago and about 15 percent of these were provided over 10 years ago.

He has a real concern about this response planning process. Would you address that kind of issue? Do you see it as enhancing risk in response to spills and transport issues? What is your general take on his concerns?

Ms. Tadros: It is very complex from a jurisdictional point of view. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development was looking at offshore oil rigs. We do not have jurisdiction to investigate offshore oil rigs unless they are moving and considered then to be a ship, or if the oil is in a pipeline. If there is a spill, as they had in the Gulf of Mexico with the Deepwater Horizon, we would not look at it. We would only look at those situations where the rig was moving or the oil was in a pipeline.

When we do investigate under either of those circumstances, we would automatically look at the response. It is only when we are conducting an investigation that we would be looking at that issue. We do not look broadly at response plans as Transport Canada is doing under the auspices of their marine jurisdiction.

Senator Mitchell: One of the concerns — perhaps the major concern — that people have with a West Coast pipeline is offshore spills. We see that the West Coast emergency response centre has been closed; we see that the Coast Guard office in Vancouver or that area has been closed. Those would be items critical to marine transport. Does that concern you? Do you see that such things enhance the risk of spills or reaction to spills?

Ms. Tadros: We would only look at these situations if we were investigating a marine accident, so we do not do so in any kind of a general sense. Mr. Laporte might have something to add on that topic.

Jean L. Laporte, Chief Operating Officer, Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB): To confirm again, we would only look at response procedures, practices, plans and so on in the context of an actual incident or accident where we would assess if proper measures were taken as part of our investigation.

However, right now we have one outstanding recommendation in the marine mode that has to do with emergency response plans. Our recommendation was that the plans need to be current and they need to be practiced and coordinated between the various players involved: Transport Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, the pilotage authorities in some jurisdictions and offshore on the East Coast with the offshore petroleum boards. Therefore, we do have that recommendation outstanding.

Every year, we take stock of progress against that recommendation and do a reassessment. At this point, that recommendation is assessed as satisfactory intent.

Senator Mitchell: "Satisfactory." How long has it been outstanding?

Mr. Laporte: Unfortunately, I do not have the date with me but it has been a number of years.

Senator Mitchell: Could you provide the information and the document in which it is found?

Mr. Laporte: Yes.

[Translation]

Senator Massicotte: You play a key role. Based on your information, I can see that you are doing a very good job. I thank you on behalf of Canadians.

Your presentation indicates a certain satisfaction with the follow-up to your recommendations regarding accidents. I will read a few of your recommendations. For instance, under recommendation P97-01, the following is stated:

[English]

The National Energy Board reassess the design provisions for "emergency shut-down" anywhere in the pipeline system with a view to ensuring the rapid isolation from the flow of product in the event of a ruptured line.

Recommendation No. P97-02: "NEB reassess the adequacy."

[Translation]

I see that those recommendations are very logical. I am even surprised you have to specify that the system must be checked and that a rapid shutoff is needed. I appreciate your recommendations. However, I am surprised that such things need to be specified. In other words, I am under the impression that the National Energy Board may be too reactive to your recommendations. I am surprised they had not taken action prior to your recommendations.

Is my impression wrong? Why do you need to specify that, when it seems obvious that a shutoff system should be created? What do you think?

Mr. Laporte: Things have changed over the years. The recommendations you are referring to were made in the 1990s. Over the past 10 years, we have issued very few recommendations, as the industry and the regulatory agency — the National Energy Board — have been much more proactive in their approach. So there has been no need for us to make recommendations.

Over the past 10 years in particular, we have been sharing the information and facts gathered during our investigation, and people have been taking proactive measures before our investigation and our report are completed. In our reports, we identify measures that have been taken to remedy the identified problems.

So a noticeable change has taken place. The industry stakeholders are now more proactive than they were in the 1990s.

Senator Massicotte: So code "P99" refers to 1999, correct?

Mr. Laporte: Yes.

Senator Massicotte: You were created in 1990, right?

Mr. Laporte: In 1990, yes.

Senator Massicotte: I do not see any recommendations after P99. Am I mistaken, or am I perhaps reading the wrong page?

Mr. Laporte: That was the last recommendation we issued regarding pipelines.

Senator Massicotte: Over the past 12 years, despite the fact that there have been 6 or 7 accidents a year where you carried out a serious investigation, no recommendations have been made in light of that new research or the information you acquired. You were satisfied in all the cases?

Mr. Laporte: Exactly. Since 2000, we have carried out one or two investigations a year on pipelines. There was no systemic problem requiring a recommendation in any of the cases. Those were isolated problems, or isolated cases, rather than systemic issues. When it came to more systemic issues, people were proactive, thus rendering any recommendations unnecessary.

Senator Massicotte: It is very reassuring for Canadians to hear that, over the past 12 years — despite the fact that six or seven accidents have taken place, and the fact that three or four of those accidents led to serious investigations every year — nothing has ensued from those investigations, and no recommendations have been made. That is either very reassuring or indicative of lowered expectations — I dare hope it is the former.

Mr. Laporte: We are not less demanding. On the contrary, we are becoming more demanding in our expectations of regulatory organizations and the industry. We are really seeing a culture of safety that is much more robust in the pipeline industry than elsewhere, in other areas of transportation.

Senator Massicotte: I see in the same reports that you provide information on railway accidents and perhaps — I have not checked — even on accidents in the marine industry. You have become recognized and very credible experts. Do you have any comments about how pipelines compare to and railways or boats? Can those different sectors be compared when it comes to culture? Are there any major differences there?

Clearly, we are interested in knowing what mode of transport is the most effective and involves the lowest risk of accident for oil transportation.

Mr. Laporte: It is difficult to compare different means of transport. There are many factors involved, and it is difficult to find a common denominator that could apply across all means of transport. So we do not make actual comparisons between transport modes. We investigate each mode specifically, and we report on our findings.

I can tell you that, when it comes to accidents and incidents, the numbers are higher in the railway industry than in the pipeline industry. The same goes for the maritime industry. But those are isolated figures, meaning that the volume and type of product transported are not taken into account. Information on quantities or volumes and transport distances is held by regulatory organizations and industry associations.

To really be able to compare all that, we would need to take into account product volumes, transportation distances, as well as a number of other factors such as the environment, climate conditions and terrain. That is very complex, and we do not have any exact figures. We can provide you with the number of identified accidents and our investigation findings for each group.

Senator Massicotte: When it comes to safety culture and attention to detail, do you feel that there is a difference between the three transport modes?

[English]

Ms. Tadros: We see some differences, but I do not know how you make the comparison because, particularly in aviation, you have many different segments of that industry. Therefore, it is difficult to compare and say that this industry has a good safety culture, that industry has a bad safety culture. It is not as simple as that at all.

However, in our investigations we are looking increasingly at the issue of safety culture. In one investigation we released last year, the Aeropro accident in Quebec City, we looked extensively at the safety culture of that company. We are drilling down and looking for indications. What we find generally in pipeline is that there is a strong safety culture. What we find in some other companies — I would not say across industries — is that there is not necessarily an indication of a strong safety culture. This is something we are learning more about and are incorporating into our investigations on a regular basis.

Senator Seidman: I would like to talk to you more specifically about your statistical accident and incident data. We all know that statistics are only as good as the methodology and the definitions behind them, but they can provide really good insights into trends and clues about potential problems and causes, which can be investigated further.

I will say that it is extremely alarming to listen to what you said about the current trend as far as incidents are concerned. There is no question there is an increase in the trend and that the data you provide shows a threefold increase for 2012. You posit hypotheses about what the causes for this can be, and of course if there is an increase in pipelines and an increase in reporting, that can account for a good number of these incidents.

However, you said you were going to look at the data more closely. I would like to know, in more detail, the timeline for the work that you will do to investigate and explore this, what you will do, how you will investigate this.

Ms. Tadros: I will start out and then I will turn it over to Mr. Jang.

We are not sure this is necessarily alarming. It is just something that we have picked up. Until we drill down and get to the bottom of the reasons for that, we will not know exactly how to put it in proportion. Sometimes when you have an increase in reporting, that is an indication of a stronger safety culture. It is an indication of an industry that wants to look at weak signals. Weak signals are those small things that happen that do not necessarily have large consequences. However, the thinking is that if you can look at those, if you can find trends, you can prevent accidents.

I know particularly at NAV CANADA, when they instituted their safety management system, the number of reported incidents went way up, and that is a good thing. However, until we drill down and we get to the bottom of it and figure out why, we will not know for sure.

Senator Seidman: I do not mean to interrupt you, but I understand the reporting issues. There is no question; it is like in health. If you have more reporting, you have more incidents recorded and trends increase. However, my question has more to do with the timeline for investigating this and exactly how you will do it.

Mr. Jang: It is certainly an item that is on our desk at the moment. It is an important file for us to get a handle on. To clarify, we look at accident trends and incident trends. Within the TSB, obviously the terminology for "incident" is different from the NEB incident.

We have found that the majority of the incidents have been increasing since about 2007. We are breaking down our numbers, looking at the individual components. We have some hypotheses, as mentioned. Over the next few months, we plan to contact the appropriate stakeholders, share the information we have discovered and have a dialogue with them to understand where the numbers are coming from. Some of the hypotheses could include things like increases in inspections. To us, that is perhaps a proactive sign of increased safety approach, safety culture. These are absolutely some things that we are interested in discussing with the stakeholders.

Senator Seidman: You are saying over the next few months, is that correct?

Mr. Jang: Yes.

Senator Seidman: What will you do with the information that you get over the next few months that would hopefully help explain this?

Mr. Laporte: Basically, we will continue the analysis, meet with stakeholders as Mr. Jang indicated, find out more, and then we will produce some kind of briefing back to our board to inform them of what we have found. Depending on what we find, then we will determine the next steps.

One of the things that we can do under our mandate is a safety study, which is an in-depth investigation of trends or issues that cross over a number of incidents or accidents over time. If we see there is cause for further analysis, our board could decide to undertake a safety study. If we find there is nothing worth pursuing there, we may simply report back in our statistical reports — our annual reports to Parliament that we table every year — what we have found, what the explanations are and what industry is doing about it. We will certainly share information with the regulator as well.

Senator Seidman: That is great. I think it will be very helpful in terms of all the public concern and worry. If indeed it is a case that the culture of safety has increased and therefore you get more reports, then it is a positive thing. That is why I think it is a critical piece to act on it and then communicate in some way.

Senator Ringuette: Thank you very much for the information that you have provided with regard to statistics. If I look at the statistics you gathered with regard to pipeline, i.e., the leakage per accident and then your statistics with regard to rail transportation, I notice that on page 11 you have a particular item that says "accident with a dangerous good release." We do not know particularly what the dangerous goods release is. For instance, there were three incidents in 2011.

Then I look at the data with regard to vessels, but I do not see in there any particular detail with regard to whether there was any leakage or implication of a dangerous good or oil or liquefied gas. Would you have that for vessels? In the case of the three railway incidents, would you have what kind of dangerous good it was?

Mr. Laporte: In the rail mode, we do not normally track the information about spills.

Senator Ringuette: Who would?

Mr. Laporte: That information is captured by the Coast Guard. Part of their mandate is to track that and also to manage the response around spills of various products in the marine environment. Historically, we have not captured that information because it was being captured elsewhere, and we wanted to avoid duplication. However, we are currently in the process of modernizing our marine databases, and this is one of the data elements that we are considering adding to our data collection in the future because of the high level of public interest and so on. However, we want to make sure we do it in a way that does not duplicate effort across government agencies and does not increase the reporting burden on industry. We are in the process of determining how best to do that, but we recognize there is a need for us to capture that in the future.

In the marine mode, we are tracking dangerous goods, which include a wide range of products, from hydrocarbons to chemicals of all kinds, gases and so on. We do keep track of that information. Mr. Jang perhaps can comment.

Senator Ringuette: Can you comment with regard to rail?

Mr. Jang: In our rail database, we do maintain a list of the products carried, and if there is a release, we will keep track of that.

The summary table you looked at was the 2011 rail summary, I believe. I did have a chance to look at the numbers just prior to this meeting, and we did a quick count in terms of the number of rail occurrences since 1990, which is about 23 years, where there was an oil or a gas release. At the moment, that is the level of filtering. We noted there were 46 occurrences over 23 years where there was an oil or gas release.

Having said that, we attempted to look at the volumes that were spilled, and in the majority of cases, I believe maybe 35 out of 46, it was very small. It was in the order of a few gallons. It was liquids or a minor venting of gas, if it was gas. Those are our numbers, and they obviously have to be taken in context.

Senator Ringuette: Could you provide these numbers? It is very important for our study so that we also can compare apples with apples with regard to the volume that is being transported by rail facilities and so forth.

Ms. Tadros: This becomes a difficult issue, and I do not think there is a clear formula or answer when you are comparing mode to mode. You may have the raw numbers in terms of how many derailments, how many spills on pipelines and so on, but you do not have a common denominator. Therefore, it makes it very difficult to compare.

Senator Ringuette: We can certainly look at the volume that is being transported and the incidents related to the different modes. I understand there is no common denominator, but with regard to incidents related to volume, there is certainly something interesting for our committee to consider.

Mr. Laporte: We can certainly provide you with the number of times there was an oil spill from a train occurrence and the approximate quantities of the spill, but we cannot provide you the volume of oil that is transported by railways.

Senator Ringuette: No, we will have to go to the industry and so forth.

Senator Wallace: Ms. Tadros, as you point out, the Transportation Safety Board conducts investigations into the causes, contributing factors and safety deficiencies that may have been encountered when there is an occurrence. All of that relates to the actual event that occurred, and then, obviously, you make recommendations to try to prevent that from happening in the future.

Does your mandate extend beyond that to consideration of the mitigation efforts that took place after an incident occurred? The end result of it is what damage, if any, was suffered by the public, by the environment and so on. Do you conduct investigation of the mitigation measures that were implemented by the company or the person responsible for the incident and its effectiveness?

Ms. Tadros: If you are talking about the response to a spill, that would be part of the scoping of the investigation, so we would report on that in the investigation report into the particular accident.

Looking more broadly, if we had a recommendation that was outstanding, as Mr. Laporte said, we would reassess that every year and look at all of the measures taken. If the recommendation was on that particular point, we would be tracking all of the responses to that recommendation and all of the efforts that were being made or were not being made to address the recommendation. However, we do not have what you would call an "overall scan" on the industry at all times.

Senator Wallace: Let us take a pipeline incident as opposed to an incident at sea when you get into marine traffic, which brings in different departments. If an incidence occurs in a pipeline that is under federal jurisdiction and the product loss occurred on land, do you investigate and make an assessment of what actually happened in the mitigation of the damage that occurred? I realize you will look at why and how the incident occurred, but with respect to the actual mitigation and the steps taken by the company to mitigate that and to recover, do you get into that or does that fall to another department?

Ms. Tadros: The short answer is yes, that is part of the scoping of our investigations. We would look at those issues and see if they were adequate. If it is standard and there is nothing exceptional, then it may not make its way into our report. However, if there is a safety issue there in the response, we would report on it.

Senator Wallace: Lessons learned and having certain types of recovery equipment available within an appropriate time are all important. Are those the types of matters that you would consider and could be in your report and recommendation?

Mr. Laporte: We would look at the initial response, but we would not necessarily go into clean-up and restoration of the environment. That is in the mandate of Environment Canada, NEB and others.

Senator Wallace: That is what I am trying to understand, that there are a number of different departments and who does what.

Mr. Laporte: We are involved in looking at the actual occurrence and the initial response to it, and that is where we stop. Clean-up and remediation are in the mandate of other people.

Senator Wallace: You noted in the statistics you presented that there has been a small increase in pipeline incidents and some of my colleagues have directed questions towards this. I understand that the federal government recently took over jurisdiction of the NOVA system in Alberta, and I also understand that with the advent of new technology smaller incidents are being discovered. Do you agree that these developments do play or could well play a role in the increase of reported incidents?

Ms. Tadros: We do not know, but they are certainly on our radar and are things we will look at as either explanations or part of the explanation.

Senator Wallace: It would seem logical, would it not?

Mr. Laporte: The part about the NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. system now coming under federal jurisdiction, yes, that is a definite increase, because it was under provincial jurisdiction; all the incidents were reported to the provincial authorities. That is definitely "yes" — an increase. How much of an increase? That is what we are looking at. Then we need to examine the "why" regarding all those reports from this particular pipeline system, and whether it is higher compared to other systems and other companies. We will be looking at all of that in the next few months.

Senator Wallace: With new technologies, it would seem logical that it would likely increase the reporting of incidents, would it not?

Mr. Laporte: Yes.

Senator Lang: I would like to go back to the comparison that was brought up between the pipeline statistics and the rail statistics. One of the reasons we are studying the question of all modes of transportation for oil and gas is to assess the safety of the various methods of transportation and to perhaps come to some conclusion on what methods should be utilized for future transportation of fossil fuels in Canada.

It seems pretty clear to me. When I look at the statistics you have brought us, I believe we talk about seven incidents or accidents this past year, and then we look at the railway occurrences and we are talking about over a thousand rail accidents in comparison. It would seem to me that there is a lot more risk to both the public and those who are working in that particular area from a safety point of view than with pipelines, from a general point of view.

As an investigator and with your knowledge of comparing the two modes of transportation, would you agree with the premise that there is more risk because of the nature of a railway and the running of a railway as opposed to that of a pipeline with respect to the workforce and the general public?

Ms. Tadros: I will start out and I will let everyone jump in, because this is a hotly-debated topic.

I think if you just look at the raw numbers, you will find the numbers are higher in rail than they are in pipeline. However, it is drawing that comparison that becomes difficult as to whether it is more risky to carry hydrocarbons by rail than it is by pipeline. That is where you have to drill down into the details and where the comparison becomes much more difficult.

Mr. Jang: That is certainly a good introduction into this whole question. It has many dimensions. The railway industry is an operation on its own. There are certain types of operations and certain types of circumstances. Some of the types of reported accidents and incidents relate to carrying dangerous goods. As I mentioned earlier, with regard to some of the dangerous goods, you can drill down further in terms of them carrying hydrocarbons.

From our high-level look at both industries, the safety culture and the safety performance in both have dramatically increased in terms of being much better.

Having said that, I am sure you are aware that we all have to be careful in terms of looking at the numbers. We are just taking the first look at trying to drill down. As mentioned earlier, we can provide you with the number of rail occurrences where there was an oil spill.

Senator Lang: We are looking into the future. We have a baseline of data. It would seem to me that we are looking at substantial increases of fossil fuels being transported in one direction or the other in this country. It would also seem to me that an organization such as yours has the knowledge and the day-to-day work responsibilities that go along with it. It seems that you would be in a position to say that if a decision has to be made, weighing the question of pipeline construction and pipeline transportation of oil and gas versus that of rail. From your perspective, what would be the safest and most risk free from the general public and workforce points of view?

I do not think you can have it both ways. A decision will have to be made by government eventually, and we look to you people to give us some advice in respect of weighing all the information we have and what should be done in respect to the future of the transportation of these fossil fuels.

Do you have a mandate to make that recommendation, whether it be the National Energy Board, or to answer that question? If you do not have that mandate for us, as advisers and paid public servants, who does?

Ms. Tadros: It is a policy decision.

Senator Lang: I fully understand it is a policy decision.

Ms. Tadros: We can provide you with all the information we have — what we have learned in our statistical analysis and in our investigations.

Senator Lang: Yet you would not recommend one or the other?

Ms. Tadros: No. I can tell you what we have found in terms of our pipeline investigations and I can tell you what we have found in terms of our rail investigations.

You also have to look at the volumes. Pipelines are designed to carry these products, so they only carry these products. Railways carry many products across the country. You are looking at a much smaller volume when you are talking about carriage of oil, for instance, on railways.

I think it is a policy decision for the government.

Mr. Laporte: There are also quite a few factors that come into play. For example, you referred to the fact that there are over 1,000 accidents in railways per year. However, I will just point out one item: 67 of those in 2011 were trespasser accidents. It was not actually a derailment or a spill. It was trespasser related, and those are often suicides. Those are included in the 1,000.

You really have to drill down into the data to be able to compare them in a meaningful manner.

Also, in a derailment, you would derail a few cars. There may be a spill from a few cars. You are dealing with small quantities, whereas if you have a rupture of a pipeline, the spill might be bigger because it takes more time to shut things down.

Again, I am just giving those as small examples. It is a complex equation to try to figure that out and compare apples to apples.

Senator Patterson: I would like to explore the independence of the TSB. It would be helpful to the public. You report to Parliament. I would like to ask about your reporting relationship to the responsible minister, whether the minister can give policy direction, and the adequacy of your budget.

Ms. Tadros: We report to Parliament through the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. We do that for independence reasons, and I think we are unique in the federal government. We make recommendations to the Minister of Transport. We make recommendations to the National Energy Board. That is the reason we do not report through either of those ministers.

In terms of policy direction, there is no ability to interfere with any of our investigations or to direct us in any particular direction to do this or that. It is a reporting relationship, so the information that we have from a financial perspective or in terms of the reports on our investigations get to Parliament.

Senator Patterson: I did ask you about the budget.

Also, what would you say about ensuring or encouraging compliance with your recommendations? What are the vehicles you have to make that happen?

Ms. Tadros: I will start with the budget. We are part of the federal government, so we are subject to budget cutbacks, as is every other government department. We are at a point right now where we have assessed the situation with our senior managers and with the current level of resources, and we are able to carry out all the investigations we need to carry out. If the numbers go much lower, that might be brought into question. However, right now we are able to carry out our mandate.

The last question you asked me concerns enforcement of our recommendations. The board was created to separate the independent accident investigators from the regulators. It is up to the regulators to enforce, and it is up to the regulators to set the policies for the industries. If you blur those lines, then you are back to where you started in about the late 1980s. We feel strongly that we are able to convince with strong, logical arguments the industries and the regulators to do what we think needs to be done.

We have been more successful in the last number of years and, as I said, we are now at 72 per cent for the whole body of our recommendations; 72 per cent have been fully implemented. We continue to push at every opportunity for higher implementation.

Senator Johnson: I know that we are over our time, but I think you are to be commended. I come from Manitoba and you have a good reputation there. I know you want to foster more trust in the public. What do you consider your biggest challenge going forward?

Ms. Tadros: Specifically in pipelines?

Senator Johnson: And/or, or both.

Ms. Tadros: The issues in pipeline are that there are a small number of accidents, but you do not know what is around the corner. You might have a small number of accidents but if you have a big one, you have huge consequences and that affects the public trust. That would be what I would be looking at, going forward.

In terms of the other modes, it is a bit of a mixed bag.

The Chair: I think that closes our questioning; we have another committee coming in.

Thank you very much for your presentation and your answers. It was very helpful for all of us. We appreciate it very much.

Ms. Tadros: Thank you, Chair.

(The committee adjourned.)