Pipeline industry faces 3 'major' incidents yearly, but says overall safety up

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VANCOUVER - An official with the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association says a record of only three major pipeline incidents on average every year shows pipeline safety is getting better.

His comment comes at the same time a marine transportation official estimates oil tanker traffic along B.C.'s coast will increase five-fold if approval is granted for the Northern Gateway pipeline and an expansion of the Kinder Morgan line through Vancouver.

The officials were part of a panel of industry associations defending pipeline safety in Vancouver on the same day lawyers were grilling Enbridge on technical details of its proposal in Prince George, B.C.

Ziad Saad, a vice-president with the pipeline association, says the industry knows the public has high expectations and so does its members and their goal is to never have any oil leaks or spills.

But he contends pipelines in general are safe, with companies in Canada abiding by the best codes and standards for pipeline design, construction and operation in the world.

More than 50 kilometres of waterways and wetlands were fouled when an Enbridge pipeline spilled into Michigan's Kalamazoo River in 2010, while a line operated by another company leaked about 3,000 barrels into Alberta's Red Deer River in June.

Organizations: Enbridge, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, Kinder Morgan

Geographic location: VANCOUVER, Prince George, Canada Michigan Kalamazoo River Alberta Red Deer River

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