Inspection reports – questions and answers

Online inspection reports: What you need to know

What is an inspection?

An NEB inspection verifies the compliance status of a pipeline, construction project or facility at a single point in time. The inspection is also called a Compliance Verification Activity, and a report will be produced with online access for the public to read. It includes any one or a combination of the following programs:

  • Safety Management and Damage Prevention
  • Security Management
  • Environmental Protection
  • Integrity Management
  • Emergency Management

Inspections may occur at any time during the life cycle of a project. They are conducted by qualified NEB officers, who may take additional action  if the company doesn’t comply with NEB requirements.

How does the NEB decide who, what and where to inspect?

We use a risk-informed model to prioritize inspections. The risk model considers:

  • potential consequences to people and the environment posed by facilities or an installation, based on its location, type, age, and operating history
  • historical information about the company’s performance or ability to manage hazards, including information collected through previous compliance verification activities such as inspections and audits
  • specific events such as incidents, complaints from landowners or the public, report of a high-risk activity, construction projects, pipeline maintenance activities, and verifying compliance to conditions on approvals and Board and Inspection Officer Orders

Some of the many factors we consider in deciding who, what, and where to inspect are:

  • areas of environmental importance (e.g., water course crossings)
  • presence of above-ground facilities such as pipeline valves and stations
  • population density
  • utility and transportation crossings
  • previous incidents and non-compliances
  • recent or outstanding issues raised by landowners or the general public
  • active pipeline construction projects, and operating pipeline maintenance sites
  • specific environmental mitigation commitments (e.g., for species at risk)

What is included in the scope of an inspection?

Through a thorough, hands-on process, an NEB officer confirms whether a regulated facility has complied with relevant acts, regulations and project approval conditions.

The scope of each inspection varies, and may depend on factors such as:

  • the specific area of expertise and competency of the officer
  • the potential hazards associated with the specific project or facility
  • the company’s compliance history
  • previous incidents

What are the NEB compliance and enforcement tools? Will the company be fined?

The NEB and its officers verify compliance, and if they should find a company to be in non-compliance they may use the following compliance and enforcement tools:

  • Corrected Non-Compliance (CNC) is used when:
    • a company corrects a non-compliance issue in the field when the officer is on site
    • the correction occurs when there is minimal risk to safety or the environment and the issue can be immediately corrected in the field

    The non-compliance will be recorded in the inspection report along with the corrective action the company took to obtain compliance.

  • Notice of Non-Compliance (NNC) is issued when:
    • an officer observes non-compliance with a low probability of harm to people or the environment
    • the matter cannot be addressed immediately

    The NEB expects compliance, and an officer ensures compliance is obtained within a specified time frame by using an NCC. The action must be completed in a reasonable time frame that doesn’t result in a risk to public safety or the environment.

    An NNC is not a finding of guilt or civil liability, but we will consider the NNC when planning further compliance verification activities, and if considering an Administrative Monetary Policy.

  • Inspection Officer Order (IO Order): NEB officers have the authority to order parties to  suspend work and can require a company to take specific actions. An IO Order is used when the officer identifies a hazard to the safety or security of the public or company employees, or a detriment to property or the environment.

    Within the order, the officer may also specify terms to mitigate the hazard.

  • Information Request: If an officer requires more information to verify regulatory compliance, they may issue an Information Request. In the request, the officer specifies the information they require from the company. The officer will evaluate the company’s response and follow up if required.

  • Additional enforcement actions: Companies must be able to operate within the regulations. Any non-compliance or series of non-compliances can be subjected to additional enforcement actions, including an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) or Board Order. There may be additional enforcement for any unresolved or ongoing non-compliance, as well as to deter future non-compliances, even if the company implemented corrective actions.

More information on the NEB’s compliance and enforcement tools can be found on these pages:

What happens if a company misses a due date for a corrective action in a Notice of Non-Compliance?

If a company misses a due date for a corrective action, it may be subject to:

  • more inspections
  • compliance meetings
  • an IO Order
  • a Board Enforcement Order
  • an Administrative Monetary Penalty

What if a company needs more time to complete a corrective action? Can it request extra time?

A company may request extra time. A request for additional time must be accompanied by a reasonable rationale. The NEB will analyze the request and decide whether to grant it.

How else does the NEB make sure a company has complied with regulations?

In addition to inspections, we do other types of compliance verification activities like:

  • management system audits
  • compliance meetings
  • company manual and report reviews
  • emergency response exercise evaluations
  • incident investigations

More information on our Compliance Verification Toolkit is available in Section III of the NEB's regulatory framework web page.

What is the difference between an inspection and an audit?

An inspection is single point in time on-site assessment of a company’s procedures, practices and commitments to make sure it complies with requirements. Inspections may occur at any time during the life of a project and have a focused scope. Our inspections normally take a few days to complete, and corrective actions are required during, or shortly after, the inspection. These corrective actions usually apply to the site inspected, although they may be expanded for company-wide issues.

An audit is a systematic evaluation of a company’s management systems, including programs, practices, procedures, plans, processes, manuals, records and activities. Audits take longer to complete, and may cover multiple sites and facilities. After we complete the audit, we may require a company to produce a corrective action plan to resolve findings of non-compliance.

Online inspection reports: What you need to know

Are all inspection reports posted online?

Inspection reports are posted online for all inspections completed after September 28, 2015.

Security inspection reports will not be published. Security inspections are intended to identify security gaps at facilities so companies can take immediate corrective actions. Given the sensitive nature of security inspections, the NEB will not publish these reports.

Findings or observations made under the Canada Labour Code are redacted from posted reports. Permission to disclose is given by the Minister of Labour on a case-by-case basis.

How long after an inspection will the report be posted?

We will make every effort to post a report within six weeks after completing the inspection. During the time between completing an inspection and posting the report on our website, NEB staff complete the following steps:

  • communicate inspection results and followup requirements to the specified company so corrective actions can be taken without delay
  • conduct technical quality assurance to ensure the report meets NEB standards
  • finalize translation and web posting of the report

Do companies approve inspection reports before they are posted?

No. Companies may view a draft report for factual accuracy (e.g., incorrect locations) and to ensure sensitive corporate information is not being released. Our officers will not change observations unless a company identifies factual inaccuracies.

How can I request an inspection on my land?

If you, as a landowner, have identified potential compliance concerns about the construction or operation of an NEB-regulated facility on your land, you should first contact the company that owns the facility. If the company doesn’t respond, or doesn’t resolve the issue to your satisfaction, please contact the NEB. We take landowner complaints very seriously and will work with you and the company to help resolve them. Where potential non-compliance is identified, we may undertake an inspection or other followup.

Refer to Pipeline Regulation in Canada: A Guide for Landowners and the Public for more information.

Is compliance followup information available?

NEB officers will document and follow up with companies when they cannot verify compliance in the field by specifying corrective actions to be taken within a specified time period. A CVA Report includes:

  • the observation made by the officer
  • the regulatory requirement related to the observation
  •  the compliance or enforcement tool to meet the regulatory requirement
  • the corrective action(s)
  • the corrective action due date

And for increased transparency for the public, we are exploring ways to provide additional compliance followup information on our website, such as:

  • the date corrective actions were taken
  • the inspector’s analysis for determining that compliance was obtained
  • the reason the non-compliance was closed
  • when compliance was achieved

What does Compliance Confirmed mean?

Compliance Confirmed is limited to the observations made by the officer at the time of the inspection.

An officer must indicate with each set of observations whether they were able to confirm compliance. Compliance Confirmed is checked ‘yes’ when the NEB officer was able to confirm compliance based on their observations at the specified site.

Compliance Confirmed is indicated as ‘no’ when an officer was unable to confirm compliance. This could mean that the officer identified a non-compliance, or that they needed to request additional information or documents from the company to confirm compliance.

What if I have additional questions about how the NEB confirms compliance or about the content of this web page?

You can contact the NEB at:

Email: info@neb-one.gc.ca
Telephone: 403-292-4800
Toll free: 1-800-899-1265
Fax: 403-292-5503
Toll free fax: 1-877-288-8803
TTY (teletype): 1-800-632-1663

Address: National Energy Board
Suite 210, 517 Tenth Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta
T2R 0A8

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