What if there is an oil spill from Enbridge's line 9 when it begins to transport oil from the tar sands? There donot appear to be firm plans in place.

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr

November 24, 2014



The National Energy Board (NEB) has made it very clear to Enbridge that the pipeline they want to reverse and pump Alberta tar sands bitumen to eastern Canada is not going to be as simple as they thought it was going to be.

The NEB recently told Enbridge that their Line 9 plans failed to meet the requirement that shutoff “valves shall be installed on both sides of major water crossings”, and also challenged the company’s definition of what constitutes a major water course (WMC).

The Board has demanded a new company submission “at least 90 days prior to applying for the final leave to open” the pipeline which significantly sets back Enbridge’s previously announced intention to start shipments later sometime in November.

Creeks map

There are seven creeks that run from the Escarpment into Lake Ontario. We know how volatile those creeks can get when they are flooded. They would carry an oil spill right out into the lake threatening our water supply.

“The Board notes that only 6 of the 104 MWCs identified by Enbridge to date appear to have valves installed within 1 km on both sides of the water crossing, while the majority appear to have valves installed more than 10 km from the water crossing on at least one side,” explains the NEB letter to the company. “The Board is of the view that Enbridge’s criteria for determining MWCs are not adequate.”

One of those major water crossing is Bronte Creek. Hamilton has a community committee that has done their homework and are on top of the issue. Burlington isn’t as fortunate. BurlingtonGreen has some expertise but not much in the way of profile on this.


The location of the valves – underground – that are controlled from the Enbridge office in Western Canada. Are there enough of these in place?

The city’s engineering department has a small group monitoring but they don’t appear to have focused on those water bodies that are within our boundaries. Hamilton is pressing very hard to ensure that the required shut off valves are installed so that if there is a spill the flow can be stopped.

We don’t hear about Burlington banging their fists on the table to make sure that the seven creeks that flow through are city have the protection needed.

Burlington is going to have to be at the table pushing for what our problems are. Sam Sidawi, Senior Engineer with the city said “we are part of a thing called the Municipal Liaison Group”, and seemed content to leave it at that. Hamilton is a part of the same group and they aren’t leaving the protection of their Major Water Crossing in the hands of others.

The Conservation Authority is in there somewhere but try getting a map from them delineating all the creeks that run from the Escarpment to the Lake and they will tell you there are GIS licensing concerns. Balderdash.

We did get a copy this morning after months of asking

Kalamazoo oil cleaning

Enbridge was sucking oil out of the river and creeks that had oil from the spill in them four years after the spill. Burlington could not go that long.

At this point Burlington doesn’t have a problem – nothing is running through Line 9 – but when they get the clearance they need – we could have a problem – that line is close to 40 years old.

Kalamazoo Michigan had an oil spill that sent an estimated 800,000 gallons of crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the river. Nearly four years later since the spill was discovered July 26, 2010 near Marshall, the Canadian pipeline company is wrapping up the cleanup.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments to What if there is an oil spill from Enbridge’s line 9 when it begins to transport oil from the tar sands? There donot appear to be firm plans in place.

  • lyn holton

    Unfortunately, the general public seem blissfully unaware that freshwater resources, though seemingly plentiful here on the Great Lakes, are finite and are, in fact, rapidly diminishing world-wide … When heavy pollutants and toxins are added to the public ‘Held-In-Trust’ fresh water supply, the contamination is not something that can be easily remedied through clean up, filtration, or by the adding more chemicals, like ‘flouride’. ‘Good water’, when poisoned, is gone for good. One major ‘goof’ is all it will take to irreversibly alter the drinking water still culled from Lake Ontario. The public, and the politicians – at the local, provincial and national levels – should be VEHEMENT that Enbridge has not one – but SEVERAL back-up – ‘safeguards’ in place to halt any and all leaks IMMEDIATELY. – Of course, it would be BEST if we could just collectively ween ourselves off our fossil fuel dependency so that this sort of pipeline build/reversal would be unnecessary and thus find ‘no market’, on or off shore. But, unhappily, that ‘reality’ seems some ways off yet … One can see how the oil industry wouldn’t really CARE what happens to our public water resources because their oil by-products are used in the manufacturing of gazillions of non-biodegradable plastic bottles that contain, guess what, private ‘bottled water’ … There’s a lot more PROFIT to be made by these oil giants in collusion with private water companies, like Nestles, selling us a ‘fear’ of public water resources, then there is gaining our trust and respect for their good husbandry of commonly held natural resources. – OPPS: a massive Great Lakes Oil Spill? Might just seal the ‘private water’ deal for corporations eager to exploit our growing ‘fears’ about ‘contaminated’ public water. … Seems we just wont know what we’ve got, ’til it is all gone. – See: Blue Gold DOCUMENTARY – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1a3tjqQiBI

  • D.Duck

    Burlington Green delegated at the line 9 hearings and city council about insuring in writing that there is a policy and procedure in place that will be followed in case of an emergency. The response from enbridge was the typical innuendo. The city’s response was lack lustre. This is an accident waiting to happen and bring proactive appears not to be prudent. This will be an “I told-you-so moment.”