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Operational Safety

Spectra Energy ensures our pipelines remain in safe and reliable operating condition.

We employ a number of techniques - from high-tech monitoring at our gas control centers, to foot patrols of pipeline easements.

Pipeline facilities above and below ground are protected by a coating applied under very exacting conditions. Routine visual inspection of all above ground facilities is conducted by Spectra Energy to determine if any coating damage or deterioration has occurred, and if so, to repair the coating. When underground pipeline facilities are exposed, usually due to excavation or maintenance activities, Spectra Energy always inspects the coating for damage or deterioration.

Company planes conduct aerial patrols of the pipeline rights of way at least once a week in the U.S. (in some places, as often as three times a week). Aerial patrols provide a bird's-eye view of the pipeline and surrounding community. The pilots look for soil movement, indications of leaks, construction activities, or other conditions that could affect the pipelines.

Spectra Energy conducts internal cleaning of its pipeline facilities to minimize internal corrosion and maintain high flow efficiencies ensuring reliability of delivery. Internal cleaning is conducted using devices called "pigs" that remove liquids and debris from inside the pipe. The vast majority of the company's pipelines are configured to allow this type pigging to occur.

Spectra Energy has cathodic protection devices at strategic points along the pipeline system designed to prevent corrosion on the pipeline. Corrosion is a significant factor that can impact pipeline integrity.

Rectifiers are part of the cathodic protection devices that transfer a regulated amount of current flow to the pipelines. Rectifiers receive electric current from AC sources like the power lines that come to your home. Spectra Energy checks all of its nearly 1,800 rectifiers along the pipeline system every two months to ensure they are operating properly.

Proper electric current flow along the surface of a pipeline impedes corrosive activity and can prolong the useful life of pipelines for many decades. The amount of current applied to the pipelines is harmless to humans, animals, and other forms of life. Spectra Energy monitors the current level on the pipeline at thousands of locations every year.

Gas Control, Spectra Energy's high-tech computer control centers, monitor the flow of gas through our U.S. pipelines and the 330 miles of the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline in Canada. Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the centers collect data from all of these pipelines so that we will always know what is happening along its system.

In addition to monitoring the flow of the natural gas with the use of Supervisory Control Data Acquisition (SCADA), we monitor pressures and temperatures as well as the operating status of all its facilities. Gas Control monitors and reacts to equipment malfunctions, and, when necessary, dispatches Spectra Energy employees who live and work along the pipeline to respond to a malfunction or alarm. As an added safety measure, we've installed remote control equipment on 350 valves along our pipeline system, enabling us to operate them remotely from Gas Control.

Spectra Energy precisely measures the quantity of natural gas when it is received at thousands of points along the pipeline from producers and at interconnections with other cross-country pipeline operators. We also measure the gas when it is delivered to local distribution companies, power plants, large industrial facilities, and at interconnections with other cross-country pipeline operators. Spectra Energy constantly samples the natural gas at many sites to identify potential corrosive components and to ensure the high standard of quality is maintained.

Spectra Energy patrols pipeline easements in populated areas and some other areas of interest on foot. Ground surveys can reveal leaks and other potential problems, enabling us to quickly repair the problem and minimize the impact.

Spectra Energy injects corrosion inhibitors into its pipelines, especially offshore pipelines, to prevent hydrate formation which could affect flow efficiencies and pipeline integrity.

Spectra Energy pipelines pioneered many of the inline inspection techniques in use in the industry today. These inline inspections are performed with mechanical tools, or "smart pigs", that enable us to examine the pipelines from the inside. Smart pig inspections provide us with valuable information, locating possible internal and external corrosion or other irregularities of the pipeline, so they can be monitored and fixed as needed.

Spectra Energy also performs leak surveys on all of its facilities on a routine basis. Our records show, however, that natural gas leaks rarely occur on our pipelines. Leak surveys look for fugitive emissions of natural gas so we can take action to eliminate them. Many miles of the pipeline are surveyed with ground survey techniques in addition to aerial patrol.

Mowing and clearing the right of way allows us to patrol the area by ground and air to discover activity that could lead to pipeline damage. It also allows the company to easily discover leaks and natural earth movement that could lead to damage of the pipeline facilities.

Above-ground pipeline facilities are routinely painted to inhibit corrosion. This corrosion could affect the integrity of the facilities. Painting our above-ground facilities also makes them more visible.

Right of way maintenance is important to us because it makes the location of Spectra Energy's pipelines clearly apparent to the public and to any other individuals that might consider excavation in the area.

Spectra Energy places markers and signs along the pipeline right of way to inform the public of the presence of the natural gas pipelines. The markers are placed at road crossings, railroad crossings and other significantly visible points along the right of way to reduce the possibility of damage to or interference with the pipelines.

In densely populated areas, we frequently place the markers within "line of sight" proximity - this means the markers are so close together that you can see from one marker to the next. Signs are placed where the pipelines cross major waterways. The markers and signs include the name of the Spectra Energy pipeline business unit and the phone numbers to call if any abnormal condition or suspicious activity is detected that would threaten the integrity of the pipeline.

Locations where the pipeline crosses waterways are inspected at the surface every year by Spectra Energy employees to check for bank erosion, visible pipeline exposure, and natural gas leaks indicated by bubbles. Many waterway crossings are inspected at the bottom of the waterway each year by contract divers under the direction of Spectra Energy. These divers determine if the pipeline is adequately covered. If the pipeline does not have adequate cover, any coating damage is repaired and the pipe is re-covered with grout bags or other suitable material.