02/05/2013 10:33 EST | Updated 04/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Enbridge grilled on pipeline safety

B.C. government lawyers grilled representatives of Enbridge on the company's emergency response plan at hearings Tuesday in Prince Rupert on the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.. At issue were definitions of what constitutes world-class safety standards.

The provincial government has said that it requires such standards for heavy oil transport, both on land and water.

B.C. has asked for assurance that Canada's standards match or exceed what's in place in other jurisdictions, such as Alaska and the state of Washington.

"I think British Columbians expect that if we are going to take on heavy oil pipelines, we need to have the very best systems in place to manage them," said B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake, who attended Tuesday`s hearing.

But Enbridge spokesperson Paul Stanway said the company’s plans already go above and beyond Canadian regulations.

"We've gone much further than anyone's ever gone before,” said Stanway. “We've committed to increased regulations for traffic coming in and out of the terminal, making sure those vessels meet top international standards."

The cross-examination hearings are scheduled to continue in Prince Rupert for the remainder of this week.

Enbridge has proposed a 1,200-kilometre twinned pipeline carrying bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat on the B.C. coast. The National Energy Board panel holding the hearings is expected to make its recommendations to the federal government late this year.