04/27/2015 05:35 EDT | Updated 07/31/2015 11:59 EDT

NEB launches public review into pipeline emergency response plans

Emergency response plans submitted by companies proposing to build pipelines in Canada are to be the subject of a public consultation overseen by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Peter Watson, CEO of the energy board, announced the new review in a speech delivered to business leaders in Vancouver today.

"Canadians deserve to be consulted on the transparency of emergency management information for NEB-regulated pipelines," Watson said. "There may indeed be some specific information that should be kept confidential, but I believe that we have been too conservative in our approach to this issue to date."

Watson said that mayors across Canada had expressed "major concerns" over a lack of transparency surrounding the emergency management plans.

"And to tell you the truth," he said. "I haven't been happy with the amount of emergency response information that pipeline companies or the NEB has been sharing with the public."

Watson said the recent spill in Vancouver's English Bay had prompted him to consult the responders in that emergency and understand the lessons learned.

"I do not believe we have a choice on this matter," he said. "We need to help ensure that everybody involved in an emergency response for a leak in an existing pipeline knows what their role is — and how to deliver on that role, when something serious happens."

Redacted plan

The announcement comes on the heels of criticism surrounding Kinder Morgan's heavily redacted emergency response plan for its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion into B.C.

The company claimed any such disclosure would compromise its security.

Kinder Morgan is seeking approval from the NEB to nearly triple the capacity of the existing pipeline. The $5.4-billion project would twin the existing pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

The National Energy Board ruled in favour of Kinder Morgan's redacted plan in January.

The public consultation will remain open until June 25, and can be accessed through the energy board's website, Watson said.