There is a reason to oppose the Enbridge pipeline flow reversal – pipelines leak.



By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON. April 17. 2013.  There are reasons for people wanting to oppose the changes Enbridge Pipeline wants to make to its Line 9b – the one that runs right through the Escarpment part of Burlington – pipelines leak.

There is that now significant leak in Mayflower, Arizona that has oil pooling at the end of people’s driveway.  The media picks up on the big leaks – the small ones are rarely reported publicly – but they are noted by the National Energy Board –which is where we learned of the very small leak between February 15 to March 15 in a filing pipeline companies are required to make.

Just north of Sideroad #1 – this pipeline crosses every creek and stream in the northern part of the city.  If it does leak – the least we should expect is that there be a real mitigation program in place.

It was a small oil leak from Line 9 near Westover but it adds to the controversy around Enbridge’s proposal to increase the flow rate in the cross-Ontario pipeline and begin using it to transport diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. The company’s plans are also hampered by outrage over the National Energy Board (NEB) requirement that residents complete an application form before being allowed to submit written comments on the Line 9 plans.

The newly revealed NEB rules were imposed by the federal government as part of its omnibus legislation last spring, and have generated media incredulity and even an editorial denunciation from the Globe and Mail. Local organizations like Environment Hamilton, the Hamilton 350 Committee and BurlingtonGreen  are urging individuals and groups to submit the application form as a way of challenging the restrictions and forcing the NEB to either approve applications or confirm that its review process is largely off-limits to the public.

The Ontario NDP is demanding a provincial environmental assessment; the Liberal government has said it will be an active intervener in the NEB process.

The Westover leak was reported to the NEB by Enbridge in a required monthly review of the company’s construction work associated with the reversal of flows in the Sarnia to Westover 9A section of the pipeline approved last summer by the NEB. It was discovered when exposing a portion of the pipe where a “stopple plug” was to be installed.

Enbridge’s 38-year-old Line 9 pipe is approved to operate between 585 and 805 psig(pound-force per square inch gauge),   between Sarnia and Hamilton. Its application to the NEB is to increase the flow volumes to 300,000 barrels a day and reverse the flow direction to allow shipment of western crude oil products including diluted bitumen.

While the company insists it only wants to use the Sarnia to Montreal Line 9 to service refineries as far east as Quebec City, others believe their objectives include export of bitumen through New England to foreign markets – a plan that Enbridge unveiled in 2008 but has since withdrawn.

The Enbridge pipeline monitoring site on Walkers Line – looking west. Enbridge can control the flow of oil through this location from their control rooms in Edmonton. Does that make the line safer? The satellite dish in the upper left handles the signals

The work currently underway at Westover was approved by the NEB in July last year and includes “infrastructure additions and modifications” at Enbridge’s Westover terminal, North Westover pump station, and at a “densitometer site 4.12 km west” of the pump station.

The circled area is where the pipeline runs. The only thing separating that part of the city and established neighbourhoods is the 407. Can you imagine what that would look like covered in a three inch oil slick?

Pipelines leak; always have, always will.  The danger for Burlington is that the pipeline Enbridge wants to make major changes to is very old and so far the community has not heard any oil leak mitigation plans that sound very re-assuring.  At this point the only thing that will slow any oil leak down is Highway 407 – not very re-assuring .

If your neighbours ask you to take part in this protest –sign on.  If you want to make your voice heard send the mayor an email and talk to the people at Burlington Green.

What are the chances of winning this? Next to none – Enbridge will be given the permit they are asking for – there is a national interest involved here.  The federal government wants that Alberta oil to flow east – a large part of our economy depends on that oil being sold.

We won’t be able to prevent that BUT if enough noise is made the NEB could insist on more than enough testing to ensure the line is as safe as possible and that there be real mitigation plans in place.  Maybe we can get Enbridge to report directly to all the municipalities along the line as well as the federal agencies.

Can we look to our MP, Mike Wallace to write letters and copy the Mayor on them?   Sure.

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