Picture this – who cleans up pipeline spills?

In our ‘Picture this’ series we’re answering some of your most common questions, and busting a few pipeline myths in the process. So far, we’ve looked at how pipeline companies prepare for an emergency and whether leaks are more likely to happen at welds and joints. This week we’re looking at who is responsible for cleaning up after a pipeline spill.

When there’s a spill, who pays for the cleanup?

If you think pipeline companies leave a big mess after a spill, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a common misconception that pipeline companies don’t take any responsibility for their messes.

Canada works on a ‘polluter pays’ model, whereby the company operating any pipeline that leaks or spills is fully responsible for cleanup.

Three facts about spill cleanup

  • Operators are held 100 per cent liable for spill cleanup
  • Once the cleanup is complete, they must also repair and remediate any damage done to the local environment
  • Remediation is an ongoing process, and the plants and wildlife are monitored to ensure the success of the project

We’re very proud of the fact that Canada’s transmission pipelines operate with a 99.999 per cent safety record. But on the rare occasion that a pipeline leaks, the operator must, and always does, take full responsibility for bringing the land back to its original condition.

spill clean up

If you’d like to read more about spill cleanup and regulation, check out these other posts:

Check out the previous posts in our ‘Picture this’ series and stay tuned for more questions answered in upcoming posts.

Is there anything you’d like to know about Canada’s transmission pipelines? Ask us here in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 119,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2015, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.