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Ontario safety agency does not inspect pipelines, putting province at risk: auditor general

In Energy
Dec 5th, 2018
Bonnie Lysyk

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk speaks to media. -National Observer photo

By Fatima Syed National Observer

An Ontario cabinet minister is vowing to bring in “more oversight” for the province’s oil and gas pipelines, following a damning audit that found the responsible government agency failed to do proper inspections or filing key reports.

The audit, released on Wednesday by the provincial auditor general, found that the provincial public safety regulator, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) had a lackadaisical approach to overseeing the industry, neglecting its public safety inspection duties and putting the environment at risk.

The audit also noted that the provincial Ministry of Government and Consumer Services had fallen short in its role to oversee the agency and ensure it is enforcing public safety.

Pipeline operators in Ontario, for instance, are responsible for their own inspections, according to the audit, included in an annual report released by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk. The only check and balance the TSSA has in place is an inspection of these records once every five years; the agency does not and has not personally inspected the natural gas and oil pipelines in Ontario.

Among other findings of the audit:

-Industry is transporting oil across Ontario in leaky or unsafe tanks.

-Since 2015, over 120 fuel spills on private fuel storage sites have been reported to the TSSA, but the agency has not started to inspect private fuel storage sites, even though it committed to doing so in 2014.

-About 70 per cent of Ontario’s natural gas stations have also not been inspected.

-TSSA is failing to adequately track and record inspection reports from fuel distributors and operators.

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