Dec 22 2010

Spectra Energy — Again

Spectra Energy: #1 Greenhouse Gas Polluter in British Columbia;

#7 on US EPA’s Top Civil Penalty Ranking for Toxic PCB Pollution;

Spectra Energy Has Leak

In its Gulf of Mexico Natural Gas Pipeline

But Files to Expand Pipeline into New Jersey & New York;

Not to Worry:  “Safety is our Franchise”

Spectra Energy formally filed this week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand its pipeline system into New Jersey and New York.

  • Meanwhile its pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico has a gas leak; and
  • It ranks as the top polluter for greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia, according to just released data from Environment Canada, the federal agency similar to the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.

Will this information be on its expansion application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?  Will it be on the company’s website?  Will the company notify citizens in Jersey City, Bayonne and Hoboken who oppose its pipeline expansion?

We’re Number One!

Let’s begin with its newly announced #1 ranking in British Columbia.

Spectra Energy’s Pine River natural gas processing plant is the top polluter, discharging 1.2 million tonnes1 of greenhouse gas pollutants, according to a news report in The Vancouver Sun, based on data from Environment Canada.2

Nationally, according to the news report, the Canadian government tracks annual industrial discharges above 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

The green house gas emissions tracked by the Canadian government include:  carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfer hexafluoride (SF6).

Spectra Energy #1 & #3 in BC

Spectra Energy’s Pine River natural gas processing plant is the number one British Columbia polluter at a reported 1.2 million tonnes for 2009, according to Environment Canada’s website.3

Like an Olympic champion polluter, Spectra Energy also took the number three position in British Columbia.  The company’s Fort Nelson gas plant reported 1 million tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions or carbon dioxide equivalent.

The Environment Canada website for greenhouse gas emissions shows 11 Spectra Energy facilities in Canada (9 in British Columbia, 2 in Alberta).  These 11 facilities spew more than 4.5 million tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere, according to the Environment Canada website.  The Spectra Energy pollutants are:  carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.

On the U.S. side of the border, Spectra Energy demonstrates a similar track record.

Remember, this is the company that assures us:

“Safety is our franchise.  It’s what we ‘do’.”4

“We conduct our business with integrity, transparency and accountability.”5

Following are highlights from the company’s track record, based on public sources which are provided.  Let the public decide whether Spectra Energy’s demonstrated performance proves the company’s alleged commitment to safety, transparency and accountability.

  • Top Civil Penalty Ranking from EPA – Spectra Energy’s Texas Eastern pipeline division is ranked number seven on the EPA’s list of the “Top Civil Enforcement Cases Based on Penalty Assessed Through EOY FY 2009.” The National Enforcement Trends (NETs) document on the EPA website shows a $15 million penalty for discharging highly toxic PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — at 89 sites along the company’s 9,000-mile gas transmission pipeline running from Texas to New Jersey.

Public Sources

EPA Link: http://www.epa.gov/oecaerth/resources/reports/nets/nets-j1-topcivpencasesofalltime.pdf

Los Angeles Times Link: http://articles.latimes.com/1989-10-21/news/mn-191_1_record-fine

EPA Link (Scroll down to 1990, see first citation for 1990): http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/epa/25b.htm

TIME Magazine Link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,966034,00.html

  • PCB Contamination – Spectra Energy acknowledges in its Form 10-K (filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 27, 2009) that toxic PCBs remain in its pipeline system:  ”Because of the historical use of lubricating oils containing PCBs, the internal surfaces of some of our pipeline systems are contaminated with PCBs, and liquids and other materials removed from these pipelines must be managed in compliance with such regulations.”

Public Source

Securities & Exchange Commission Link (See p. 20 of Spectra Energy’s 10-K filing, under the subhead, “Environmental Matters.”  Scroll down to the fifth bullet in this section.): http://google.brand.edgar-online.com/EFX_dll/EDGARpro.dll?FetchFilingHtmlSection1?SectionID=6443897-14380-68283&SessionID=rLklHFq_OCp6n47

  • Fiery Inferno – Spectra Energy’s underground gas storage reservoir outside of Houston (Moss Bluff) experienced catastrophic failure in 2004 with two explosions, 6 1/2 days of fire with flames as high as 1,000 feet and two evacuations.  An estimated 6 bcf of natural gas was consumed during the fire lasting nearly one-week.

Public Sources

Industrial Fire World (IFW) Link:  http://www.fireworld.com/ifw_articles/mossbluff1.php

USA TODAY Link:    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-08-20-gas-explosion_x.htm?csp=36

ENERGY MARKETS Link:  http://www.falcongasstorage.com/_filelib/FileCabinet/Articles/article_singlepointfailurerisk.pdf?FileName=article_singlepointfailurerisk.pdf

  • “Unlawful Conduct” – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued two Notices of Violation in 2009 for Spectra Energy’s “unlawful conduct” during the first year of operation at its Steckman Ridge compressor station at the company’s 12 billion-cubic-feet underground natural gas storage reservoir in Bedford County, PA. Spectra Energy’s “unlawful conduct” violated air quality and clean stream regulations of the Pennsylvania Code, according to the Pennsylvania DEP.

Public Sources

PA Department of Environmental Protection Link: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=10196&typeid=1

Philly IMC Link:  http://www.phillyimc.org/en/natural-gas-compressor-station-coats-farmland-used-gear-oil

Altoona Mirror Link:  http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/528428/DEP-fines-gas-company–22K.html

Altoona Mirror Link:  http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/526358/Gas-company–Automatic-shutdown-not-an-issue.html

Spectra Energy Pipeline Gas Leak, Gulf of Mexico

This week, it was reported that “Spectra Energy Corp. detected a ‘small’ leak in an offshore 20-inch natural gas pipeline,” according to Bloomberg.  Dow Jones said the pipeline is in the Gulf of Mexico “about 80 miles south of the western Louisiana shore.”6

While Spectra Energy was patching its Gulf of Mexico pipeline “leak” and scoring big time polluter credentials in British Columbia, it filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand its pipeline system into New Jersey and New York City.

According to a news report in The Jersey Journal:

“Both Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy and Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith, as well as U.S. Rep. Albio Sires and various community groups have blasted the plan, citing safety concerns.

“‘Now that Spectra has formally filed its application with FERC, our lawyers will review the application and begin the process of preparing the city’s forms to file for Intervenor Status,’ Healy said in a statement. ‘Our opposition to this is unwavering, and we feel the pipeline should not run through Jersey City.’

“An intervenor is an official party in a proceeding before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that has the ability to participate in hearings before FERC administrative law judges, file briefs, file for rehearing of a FERC decision, and have legal standing in a court of appeals to challenge a FERC decision.” 7

Show Us the Safety, Transparency & Accountability

How will the company demonstrate its alleged commitment to safety, transparency and accountability?  While we’re at it, how will the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) demonstrate its commitment to safety, transparency and accountability in the matter of Spectra Energy’s proposed pipeline expansion?

Is FERC even aware of the company’s long track record that substantiates a lack of operational excellence?  Will it raise these questions?

For continuing updates, check out the website for NO GAS PIPELINE at this link: http://nogaspipeline.org/

Links and Resources

1 Tonne - Refers to a metric ton which is 1,000 kilograms or 2,200 pounds so it is larger than a U.S. ton which is 2,000 pounds or 907 kilograms.

2 Lo and behold, updated Canadian industrial emissions data arrives in time for XmasThe Vancouver Sun, by Scott Simpson, December 16, 2010

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/innovation/archive/2010/12/16/lo-and-behold-updated-canadian-industrial-emissions-data-arrives-in-time-for-xmas.aspx

3 Environment Canada:  2009 Facility & Substance Information for SPECTRA ENERGY TRANSMISSION Pine River Gas Plant - http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/websol/querysite/facility_substance_summary_e.cfm?opt_npri_id=0000004306&opt_report_year=2009 See also this summary of 11 Spectra Energy facilities in British Columbia and Alberta: http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/onlinedata/results_e.cfm?fac_name=spectra+energy&year=2009&gasorcas=gas&gas=all&cas=all&location=province&prov=all&city=22%2Bkm%2BNE%2Bof%2BFort%2BMcMurray&naics=all&submit=Send

Or pdf file here: greenhouse-gas-se-in-bc-alberta

4 “Safety is our franchise” – For the full context of Spectra Energy Group VP Bill Yardley’s assertion, see this post (footnote #1 under Links & Resources) – Spectra Butter Job (Sept. 1)http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=753

5 ‘Integrity, transparency and accountability’ – Spectra Energy’s 2009 Sustainability Report – See first paragraph under “Ensure Strong Governance and Business Ethics” – http://www.spectraenergy.com/our_responsibility/2009-Sustainability-Report/ensure_strong_corporate_governance/index.html

6 Spectra Energy’s pipeline “leak”Bloomberg link: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-20/spectra-reports-natural-gas-leak-from-20-inch-pipeline-update1-.html

Dow Jones link: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2010/12/20/spectra-reports-leak-gulf-mexico-natural-gas-pipeline/

7 Spectra Energy files plan with federal agency for gas pipeline that Bayonne, Jersey City and Hoboken oppose – by Ken Thorbourne, The Jersey Journal, December 21, 2010.  Link: http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1292916334212100.xml&coll=3

3 Responses

  1. An Explosive Situation | The Global Realm Says:

    [...] Pipeline industry representatives maintain that they are well-motivated to conduct their own inspections and to adhere to a self-regulated set of safety standards. However, for critics, recent history belies that claim. To name just a few examples: In 2009, the EPA issued a $15 million penalty to Spectra Energy for discharging highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) at 89 sites along the company’s 9,000-mile Texas to New Jersey transmission pipeline. (For more information on Spectra’s violations, see http://www.spectraenergywatch.com/blog/?p=964.) [...]

  2. Why Not the Pipeline? | Says:

    [...] It’s a danger to local residents. 2) Spectra has a history of safety issues. 3) Pipeline regulation and oversight is sorely inadequate. 4) We don’t need [...]

  3. Second Spectra Pipeline Rupture in One Week | Says:

    [...] two workers. British Columbia has not had a very pleasant history with Spectra. According to Spectra Energy Watch, their Pine River natural gas processing plant was the number one polluter in 2009, and Spectra [...]

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