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Archived - Pipeline Safety Act

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A Commitment to World-Class Pipeline Safety

The Government of Canada is committed to having a world-class safety system in place for pipelines and other energy transportation and production sectors. No development will proceed unless rigorous environmental and regulatory reviews have indicated they are safe for Canadians and the environment. This ongoing commitment to safety and environmental protection is part of the Government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, which aims to create high-quality jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

Pipelines are a safe, efficient and reliable way to move Canadian oil and natural gas products to market. Between 2008 and 2013, more than 99.999 percent of oil transported via federally regulated pipelines was carried out safely.

Taking Action to Improve Pipeline Safety

Through the Pipeline Safety Act, the Government is implementing a suite of measures to strengthen incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation, as summarized below.

This legislation complements a number of previously implemented measures to strengthen pipeline safety, which provided the National Energy Board (NEB) the authority to levy administrative monetary penalties, and increase the number of NEB inspections and audits.

New prevention measures:

  • Enshrine in law the “polluter pays” principle, stating that polluters will be held financially responsible for the costs and damages they cause;
  • Clarify audit and inspection powers of the NEB; and
  • Ensure companies operating pipelines remain responsible for their abandoned pipelines.

New preparedness and response measures:

  • Require companies operating pipelines to hold a minimum level of financial resources, set at $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines;
  • Require a portion of each company’s financial resources be readily accessible to ensure rapid response to any incident; and
  • Provide NEB authority to take control of incident response and cleanup in exceptional circumstances, if a company is unable or unwilling to do so.

New liability and compensation measures:

  • Build on companies’ unlimited liability under common law (when at fault or negligent) by implementing “no fault” or absolute liability for all companies operating pipelines, set at $1 billion for companies operating major oil pipelines;
  • Provide governments the ability to pursue pipeline operators for the costs of environmental damages;
  • Provide the NEB authority to order reimbursement of spill clean-up costs incurred by governments or individuals; and
  • Expand NEB authority to recover costs incurred for incident response from industry, in exceptional circumstances.

Other non-legislative actions:

  • Seeking guidance from the NEB on the application of “best available technologies” for pipeline construction and operations; and
  • Working with Aboriginal communities and industry to develop a strategy to better integrate Aboriginal Peoples in pipeline safety operations, including planning, monitoring, incident response and related employment and business opportunities.

Taken together, these measures will ensure that Canada’s pipeline safety system is world class and Aboriginal Peoples are involved in all aspects of pipeline safety operations.  

Media may contact:
Alexandra Lemieux
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada


Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada

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