Q&A on Emergency Procedures Manuals
1. Why does an NEB-regulated company need an emergency procedures manual(s)?
The NEB’s Onshore Pipeline Regulations require a company to have a manual(s) so that it can effectively respond to an emergency. Emergency procedures manuals, also know as emergency response plans, describe specialized response capabilities, equipment, procedures, and roles and responsibilities that will be used to support a response to an emergency. The manual(s) supplement local and provincial authorities, and must be integrated with other organizations to help mitigate the consequences of the emergency. This integration is usually accomplished by working within an incident management system. This system integrates multiple authorities and response organizations into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations.
2. Why should an NEB-regulated company submit a manual with the NEB?
The purpose of submitting the company’s manual to the NEB is so that we have the same response procedures as the company. This helps us understand who the stakeholders might be, how they are integrated, and be aware of the internal and external company contact information.
3. How are manuals filed with the NEB?
The NEB currently requires all regulated oil and gas companies to file one hard copy and one electronic copy of their respective manuals with the Board. Currently, the hard copy is considered the official record. When filing updates to the manuals, a new or complete manual in both electronic and hard copy incorporating all updates is required.
4. How often are manuals filed with the NEB?
All manuals and updates must be regularly submitted to the NEB. At a minimum, annual manual updates are filed by 1 April of each year or, alternatively, companies file a letter indicating that there have been no changes to their manual.
5. What is the NEB’s process when manuals are received?
The hard copy is date and time stamped upon receipt. Both the electronic and hard copies are filed in a repository at the NEB’s Calgary office.
6. What is the manual review process?
The NEB has a comprehensive manual review process to examine elements of companies’ emergency response procedures. By 31 December 2016, all manuals and any pertinent supporting documentation will have gone through a thorough NEB review. As new manuals are filed, they will also be reviewed.
The NEB will continue to use its risk model to identify when subsequent reviews will be conducted on updated manuals. Ongoing NEB monitoring ensures continued compliance with emergency response regulatory requirements.
7. What happens when a non-compliance is identified?
Should there be any non-compliances identified through the review, the NEB will gather additional information to assess the nature of the non-compliance. The NEB will then enforce regulatory requirements to obtain compliance, deter future non-compliance, and prevent harm by using the most appropriate tool from a large spectrum of available tools. This may include issuing:
- Notices of Non-Compliance,
- Inspection Officer Orders,
- Board-issued Safety Orders,
- Administrative Monetary Penalties, and the
- Revocation of a company’s authorization to operate; and prosecution.
Pursuant to the National Energy Board Act, any person who fails to comply with an Inspection Officer has committed an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or 1 year imprisonment, and on conviction on indictment to a fine of up to $1,000,000 dollars and/or 5 years in imprisonment.
8. Why doesn’t the NEB “approve” manuals?
Through its management system requirements, the NEB holds companies accountable to manage and reduce risk, and continually improve their operations. A carefully-designed and well-implemented management system includes an Emergency Management Program and supports a strong culture of safety. This is fundamental to keeping people safe and protecting the environment.
As part of an Emergency Management Program companies produce manuals that are living documents which are continually updated and improved to proactively identify, assess, control and mitigate hazards before incidents occur. The NEB’s regulatory framework allows for this innovation while at the same time holding companies accountable to make regular improvements to their manuals and file these with the Board.
The NEB conducts a thorough review of all manuals filed with the Board to verify the manuals comply with regulatory requirements. Where necessary, the NEB will enforce regulatory requirements in order to obtain compliance, deter future non-compliance and prevent harm by using the most appropriate tool or tools available.
9. Are the manuals we have on file the same as the first responders and municipalities?
Companies are required to file a copy of the original manual(s) with the NEB. Companies also share manuals or sections of it related to public safety with emergency planners, first responders and agencies to ensure they are fully aware of applicable emergency response procedures and protocols. The majority of the manuals’ content is publicly available through companies’ websites. The content that would not be publicly available would include information that if made public, could infringe upon individual privacy, national security, and third party confidentiality.
For more information on public disclosure of manuals, please refer to the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association website at CEPA.com [Pipeline operators coming together to advance common approach to public disclosure of emergency response plans].
10. How does the NEB assess emergency preparedness?
NEB staff evaluate a company’s emergency management program through evaluations of a company’s emergency response exercises, compliance meetings (with companies and other stakeholders), audits of their emergency management program and in the unlikely event of a significant emergency.
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