Pipeline operators coming together to advance common approach to public disclosure of emergency response plans

CALGARY, AB – 23 MARCH 2015 – The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) has struck an executive task force to develop a common approach to public disclosure of emergency response information relating to pipeline operation. The task force — created based on industry’s acknowledgement of the public need for clarity and confidence in emergency response planning — will develop guiding principles around disclosing emergency response information in early April. These new guidelines will help create a new template for emergency response plan disclosure to be developed later this year.

Emergency response plans (ERPs) contain certain information that if made public, could infringe upon individual privacy, national security, third party confidentiality and environmentally sensitive information. While these particular areas may be withheld from public disclosure for the preservation of privacy and security, companies share with appropriate emergency planners, first responders and agencies, sections of the plan related to public safety as required, to ensure they are fully aware of the procedures and protocols around emergency response. It is also important to note that the majority of plan content (and in many cases entire plans) are publicly available through regulators or the companies themselves.

CEPA acknowledges the importance of the transparency of emergency response to the general public to increase their confidence in the ability of industry to handle emergencies while ensuring effective emergency response continues. “A number of our members have faced significant public pressure to disclose all information contained in emergency response plans. The CEPA task force will work to support that by establishing clear principles and guidelines that seek to find the right balance between the public’s right to know, the privacy of personal information and the security considerations also required for public safety. This will help ensure all information that municipalities require are shared in written form without a non-disclosure agreement.” says Jim Donihee, Chief Operating Officer, CEPA.

“Developing a common approach to ERPs is just one example of industry collaborating in our efforts for continuous improvement.” says Jim. “For example, beyond ERPs, CEPA and its members are committed to continuous improvement through CEPA’s Integrity First® program, where members work together to improve pipeline safety, environmental protection, technology advancements and social and economic benefits to the communities and regions where we operate.”

The task force will seek to clarify the appropriate level of information that can be shared with various stakeholders while taking into account Canadian legal requirements pertaining to public safety and security. Consultation with Public Safety Canada, the RCMP, regulators and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will be part of this process.

More on ERPs

Emergency response plans are intended for companies, first responders, local agencies and authorities who are involved in emergency response and as such are shared, tested and regularly exercised to ensure they are robust and effective. On January 1, 2014, CEPA members agreed to abide by the Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA) to enhance their emergency response effectiveness by assisting each other in the event of a significant emergency within the member companies.

On September 24, 2014 CEPA and its members tested the MEAA in a table top exercise. The media, government officials, first responders, provincial and federal regulators were all invited to attend and observe. You can learn more about the exercise here: http://www.cepa.com/emergency-response-the-pipeline-industry-puts-itself-to-the-test.

You can find more on MEAA here:http://www.cepa.com/about-pipelines/maintaining-safe-pipelines/in-an-emergency/mutual-emergency-assistance-agreement-meaa.

ABOUT CEPA

CEPA represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate about 130,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and the United States. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America. Visit us at: aboutpipelines.com.

For media inquiries, please contact: Alexandra Frison at 403 221 8759 or via email at afrison@cepa.com.