The PR people at Enbridge Inc. have a macabre sense of humor, invoking the spirit of Lemony Snicket to respond to a damning report by the National Transportation Safety Board concerning one of the biggest onshore oil spills in U.S. history.

On July 10, the NTSB determined that Enbridge first noticed cracks in its pipeline in 2005, but failed to fix them. The two-year ago spill of more than 20K barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil from Enbridge's pipeline contaminated a 40-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and led to an $800M, so far, clean-up bill for the Calgary-based company.

In Enbridge’s press release commenting on the NTSB report, CEO Patrick Daniel said:
"We believe that the experienced personnel involved in the decisions made at the time were trying to do the right thing. As with most incidents, a series of unfortunate events and circumstances resulted in an outcome no one wanted.”

That’s a statement that would make Lemony proud.

Lemony Snicket, pen name for Daniel Hander, wrote a series of 13 children’s gothic novels beginning in 1999 called “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Printed in 41 languages, the books sold 60M-plus copies. There was a movie that starred Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep. My daughter, Caitlin, was a big fan, which resulted in many trips to the local bookstore.

The Series of Unfortunate Events told of the adventures of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, which mainly dealt with them trying to escape their murderous cousin Count Olaf. After the death of their parents in a house fire, Olaf attempted to kill the kids to embezzle their inheritance. The unfortunate events referred to the mayhem and slaughter of characters surrounding the kids.

One wonders which Unfortunate book is the favorite of Enbridge CEO Daniel. His choices are “The Bad Beginning,” “The Reptile Room,” “The Wide Window,” “The Miserable Mill,” “The Austere Academy,” “The Ersatz Elevator,” “The Vile Village,” “The Hostile Hospital,” “The Carnivorous Carnival,” “The Slippery Slope,” “The Grim Grotto,” “The Penultimate Peril,” or “The End.” It's a tough call, but The Vile Village, The Grim Grotto and Slippery Slope are good descriptions of the area of Michigan impacted by Enbridge's pollution.

The NTSB report cannot be good news for TransCanada, which wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline to transport its oil sand tars from Canada to the Gulf Coast. It’s not clear if TransCanada’s PR team is a fan of Snicket.

If so, PR staffers may consider the NTSB report The Penultimate Peril or even The End to TransCanada’s pipeline dream.