Canada's energy regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB), has widened the scope of a safety recall on dodgy steel parts used in pipelines after an investigation found there may be more substandard parts in use than what they had previously identified.
The pipeline industry has been aware of problematic steel in its infrastructure since 2008 at least, when U.S. regulators noticed that the industry was using substandard materials in pipelines that were cracking apart during testing.
Whistleblowers from the pipeline industry have also complained that the NEB has downplayed the risks of inadequate manufacturing and construction practices for years without taking any action, putting public safety and the environment at risk.
The National Energy Board (NEB) said on Wednesday that it was aware about quality problems with some pieces of pipeline and pipeline fittings that didn't meet required standards for strength, and in some cases had contributed to pipeline failure under high pressure testing.
In a statement posted on its website late in the afternoon, the NEB said, "there is no immediate risk to the public or the environment." The order requires companies who might be using the parts to identify and test them to confirm that they are safe.
The NEB issued a similar advisory in February 2016 about pipeline components that did not meet Canadian standards from manufacturers Ezeflow Group and Canadoil Asia. The advisory on Wednesday adds products from two other manufacturers – TK Corporation and Tecnoforge – to the list of products to be re-tested.
The latest recalls also followed a written warning sent in May 2012 by former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes. At that time, he warned the NEB about material on a natural gas pipeline in northern Alberta without any response from the regulator. That pipeline would later blow up near a hunting cabin in 2013.
The NEB said that the substandard parts were not the main cause of the incident, although they were flagged as problematic in an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.