Background and Summary of Key Findings – National Energy Board Audit of TransCanada Pipelines

Evan Vokes was employed at TransCanada Pipelines as a specialist materials engineer with a focus on pipeline welding and welding inspection. Between 2007 and 2012, based on first-hand experience, Mr. Vokes came to have serious concerns regarding the safety and inspection of TransCanada’s pipelines. He repeatedly tried without success to push TransCanada Pipelines to address these issues. Finally, in 2012, Mr. Vokes informed the NEB of his serious concerns regarding regulatory non-compliance after TransCanada’s internal audit failed to resolve code and regulations violations. Shortly thereafter, TransCanada fired Mr. Vokes without cause.

On Monday February 24, 2014, the National Energy Board (NEB) released its findings regarding the audit of TransCanada which was prompted by Mr. Vokes’ complaints. The full audit report can be found at: http://klippensteins.ca/neb-audit-of-transcanada-feb-2014 The NEB agreed with many of Mr. Vokes’ complaints and found various breaches of regulations. Key findings of the NEB include:

  • TransCanada was “non-compliant” in the areas of Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control and Inspection, Measurement and Monitoring (Final Audit Report (“Audit”), p. 17);
  • TransCanada had “insufficient overpressure protection and management of hazards associated with external corrosion” (Audit, p. 14);
  • TransCanada showed “inadequate consideration of NEB safety advisories notifying where hazardous conditions existed and regulatory requirements were not being met” (Audit, p 16);
  • “ineffective implementation of internal practices to address the complainant’s issues prior to Board notification” (Audit, p. 17);
  • TransCanada failed to ensure that all welds were visually inspected, (Appendix II, p. 80);
  • TransCanada failed to ensure that examination of welds was conducted by qualified independent third parties (Appendix II, p. 78);
  • TransCanada engaged unqualified welders on the Keystone Pipeline (Appendix II, p 82)

Mr Vokes takes issue with TransCanada’s public statements that TransCanada has taken these concerns seriously. If that were true, the concerns should have been remedied long ago when they were first raised by experts within TransCanada.

Mr. Vokes, who considers himself to be “pro-pipeline”, will continue to advocate for the safe construction of pipelines that accord with the sound practice of engineering. Mr. Vokes is continuing to follow up on his serious concerns regarding pipeline safety at TransCanada with various other institutions and professional associations.

March 6, 2014

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