March 31, 2013

Pipeline earns high marks from many quarters

Most spills in its 72-year history have been minor, but activists say scrutiny remains 'imperative.'

By Tux Turkel
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Regarding the Portland pipeline, the federal agency has conducted two site-specific inspections, two system-wide inspections and six targeted inspections since 2006. It initiated and resolved five enforcement cases during the period, records show.

The issues raised seem relatively minor. For instance: PHMSA wasn't happy with the way the company was documenting its Liquid Integrity Management program, a federal rule which details how operators must identify and validate the condition of their pipelines. The agency also said the company's management program was inadequate because its procedures failed to include methods that measure effectiveness.

Damon Hill, a spokesman for PHMSA, said these deficiencies were based on reviewing written documents, not a field inspection.

Larry Wilson, the pipeline company's president, said the document was a result of a periodic and routine inspection of the management program, and was not related to spill prevention. After the pipeline company provided additional details about the program, the case was closed.

Environmental activists, however, put little faith in these reviews, which they see as superficial.

"It would be foolhardy for the citizens of Maine to put a lot of trust in PHMSA to ensure actual pipeline safety and prevent a spill," said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "They just aren't set up to do that. When the dangers of a spill grow as a result of tar sands, it becomes imperative that there be a fresh environmental review before any project goes forward."

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)