Changes made earlier this year to the National Energy Board Onshore Pipeline
Regulations include new provisions requiring that the owners of
federally regulated pipelines institute policies and procedures for
the internal reporting of pipeline hazards.
The revised regulations now require that each pipeline owner
implement "a policy for the internal reporting of
hazards, potential hazards, incidents and near-misses that includes
the conditions under which a person who makes a report will be
granted immunity from disciplinary action".
The media has in some cases reported that the revised
regulations allow reports of hazards to be made by
whistle-blowers without fear of reprisals. In fact,
there is no such blanket protection in the regulation: each
company's policy must set out the conditions under which
whistle-blowers will be granted immunity, but no particular
standard of protection is required. A whistleblower will only
receive the protection set out in the applicable pipeline
One news report also quoted the National Energy
Board as stating that "immunity would not apply in cases of
"gross negligence" or "willful violation" of
standard operating procedures," This exception is also
not provided in the revised regulations. The National Energy
Board, in a "Question And Answer" guideline published
with the revised regulations, used the gross negligence or wilful
misconduct as an example of a circumstance in which immunity might
not be granted by a pipeline owner, but this was given only as an
example; such an exception is not a requirement of the
regulation, and the regulation does not set forth any particular
requirements for the contents of the policy or the exceptions.
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