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Energy and Mines

Governments work on oil spill investigation agreement


FORT ST. JOHN - The oil spill in the Pine River is contained, and the federal and B.C. authorities expect to finalize an agreement soon for sharing information as they investigate the cause of the pipeline rupture, Energy and Mines Minister Dan Miller and Environment, Lands and Parks Minister Joan Sawicki said today.

"Investigators from various agencies at each level of government are working to determine what caused the pipeline to fail," Miller said. "Our common goal is to minimize environmental damage, continue cleanup operations, secure safe drinking water for local residents and get the pipeline up and running safely and quickly."

"While we investigate this incident, provincial agencies will continue working with federal authorities and the company to make sure that any oil remaining in the river area is recovered as quickly and efficiently as possible," Sawicki said.

Miller said the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, which regulates pipeline safety in B.C. using the Canadian Standards Association's standards, would be included in the information-sharing agreement.

The commission last inspected the pipeline on Dec. 6, 1999. The pipeline fully complied with the Canadian Standard Association's regulations.

"The commission will share whatever information it has about the pipeline's history, as well as information obtained during the course of its investigation into this incident, with all other investigating agencies," Miller said

The Oil and Gas Commission is a Crown corporation responsible for regulating B.C.'s upstream oil and gas industry. More than 25,500 kilometres of pipeline across B.C. is under the commission's jurisdiction. The commission's headquarters are in Fort St. John with offices in Victoria and Fort Nelson.

Oil and Gas Commission inspectors, along with the B.C. Environment Ministry, Environment Canada and Provincial Emergency Program officials have been on site since the rupture was reported in the early hours of Aug. 1.

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Kerry Readshaw Assistant Director Communications (250) 888-0395