Enbridge is not a Cambridge Problem?

By  | January 26, 2012 | 7 Comments | Filed under: Editorial, Enbridge

I’m very tied up with the February issue right now, and I had to wait to see how this played out before we go to print. I’m just going to put a bit here for now to give you an idea, there is a lot more to come.
Sue taylor and I met with Mayor Craig to discuss some of our concerns about the Enbridge Pipeline, and he subsequently met with Enbridge officials.
The officials have convinced Mayor Craig he has nothing to worry about, and the mayor doesn’t think it’s a Cambridge problem.
I don’t agree.
We have been looking into this for over six months, and there is no doubt that we are not prepared for what could be the biggest ecological disaster in Canadian history.
We have been watching our water pipes break with increasing frequency. just this week a broken sewage pipe in Kitchener leaked into the drinking water, leading to a boiled water advisory.
These oil pipes were built at the same time as our crumbling water pipes.
The pipes are monitored 24 hours a day…from Edmonton.
The pipes are inspected visually…from an airplane.
The Mayor claims it’s not a “Cambridge Problem,” but this is from the City of Cambridge Website, including the piece about Walkerton, and it makes me wonder if we deserve to be “Groundwater Guardians.”. (The Irony)
After all, the line doesn’t actually run through Cambridge, it’s not our fault that we happen to be the closest city. Let the places downstream worry about it.

From the City of Cambridge Website

For ten years, the work of the Cambridge WATERS Committee has been recognized by the Groundwater Foundation when they have designated Cambridge as a Groundwater Guardian community. At present, Cambridge is the only community in Canada designated as a Groundwater Guardian community, joining over 150 American communities. Visit the Groundwater Foundation website

Cambridge Groundwater Facts
The City of Cambridge is situated in the heart of Southern Ontario, Canada, approximately a one hour drive west of Toronto, and a three hour drive northeast of Detroit. The City is a local area municipality within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the largest urban area dependent upon groundwater in Canada. Cambridge is situated at the confluence of the Grand and Speed rivers which are important sources of drinking water for a number of communities. Underlying bedrock aquifers supply most of the drinking water to Cambridge (population 130,000) as well as to the other municipalities within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (which has a total population of approximately 500,000). The City relies on twenty-seven water supply wells up to 60 metres (200 feet) deep. The highest producing wells occur in the heart of the City and these supply almost half of the water used by residents and industries. Many of these wells date back to the 1900’s with the first wells being drilled in 1891. Approximately 80% of the water consumption in the City is drawn from groundwater. The remaining 20% comes from the Grand River and is pumped into the Manheim aquifer and mixed with groundwater before distribution. Although this precious resource is relied upon as our source of drinking water, other water uses place a great strain on its availability. However, attitudes towards water usage and conservation have begun to change with the recent water restriction by-laws, educational activities and events, and very successful incentive programs (rainbarrels, high-efficiency toilet replacement programs, among others).

The Big Groundwater Picture
Walkerton is a small town of about 6,000 people that is only a 1.5 hour drive north-west of Cambridge. And like Cambridge it too is dependent on groundwater as its source of drinking water. In May 2000, several serious flaws in Walkerton’s municipal drinking water system resulted in seven deaths and more than 2,300 cases of waterborne disease affecting almost half the residents of the town. As a result of that tragedy a public inquiry identified the need for government actions and planning that focused on “source water protection” at the watershed / regional level in the Province of Ontario. Cambridge WATERS has created displays and information materials, in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and looks forward to greater involvement in other source water protection efforts.

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7 Responses to Enbridge is not a Cambridge Problem?

  1. Dominick Murrieta January 26, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Enbridge just can not ignore this if what you say is true, but is the Mayor ignoring it or just not have all the facts?

  2. Scot Ferguson-Barber January 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Dominick, I gave him enough information, and the mayor has his own computer;it doesn’t take a lot to research line 9 Enbridge Oil. It’s easier to ignore the problem and hope I’ll go away;I won’t. Plausible deniability is no longer an option.
    I am having discussions with a large, reputable, environmental agency, and hope to have an action plan in place in the next few days.

  3. Rod B January 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Scott – What do you want to get out of all of these articles? Do you want Enbridge to shut the pipeline down? Do you want them to run a safer pipeline? I’m just curious because the articles have been interesting but i don’t see if there is a goal to all of this except for the headlines. If that is the case then is fine.

    This specific pipeline has been there a long time so it is not a new issue. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines in the ground in North America (probably more than a million miles of pipelines) so this is not just a Cambridge issue. I happen to work with a lot of US Pipeline companies so I’m very familiar with the work they do to maintain and prevent accidents from happening. I see the daily maintenance reports their field personnel make identifying the changes they make. In the US the federal government and many state government have very strict regulations on how often they must check their pipeline integrity and complete preventative maintenance. The closer a pipeline is to a houses the more strict the regulations become. They also check to see if the pipeline fall in any environmentally sensitive areas or high consequence areas. They then need to run pipeline spill modeling in these areas to rate the potential impact of a change and their response time.

    I’m not so familiar with the Canadian regulations because all the work i get is from the US. A lot of this work is driven by these safety regulations. Have you researched these regulations? Have you asked Enbridge what type of maintenance they do on this pipeline? I’m sure they do more than just aerial survey it once a year. Have they run a Smart Pig through the pipeline looking for defects and corrosion? Is this a requirement in Canada? I recall seeing an article where the City ran a device through one of the sewage lines in Preston (I believe) and found issues. Pipeline companies do this all the time in the US.

    I don’t think the mayor is the right person to ask about this because it is more of a provincial and federal issue. The city needs to have a plan in place in case there is an accident but I would doubt they could do much else.

  4. Scot Ferguson-Barber January 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Rod, I’ll let Sue answer you in detail, I’m pretty busy, but part of the problem is the proposed reversal of the flow with a heavier viscosity oil that is being proposed. No-one is sure if the pipes can handle it.
    We are starting with Cambridge, but we have already started contacting other officials.
    In addition, we have had discussions with a national environmental organization who we will be working with to raise public awareness.

  5. Sue Taylor January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I’m also very busy, so I’ll jump in here just briefly for now.

    I don’t know that Mayor Craig intended for us to believe that he feels Cambridge is unaffected or that he is completely ignoring the problem. It’s something that has been coming to his attention recently and the City of Cambridge will have to continue its business relationship with Enbridge for obvious reasons. They may not be the best corporate citizens, but they do bring the supply. So… yeah… we all know how that goes.

    An important thing to consider in this is the age of this local pipeline. Someone who installs pipelines today, or works at the various stations, may not understand how things were done 30-50 years ago or more. Our local lines were put in before the time of computer simulated modelling. We know from enough experts that the materials used then are not holding up as best as was originally planned. Now this line is in, it’s old, it’s not as accessible as it once was, and getting the right facts from the right sources is hellish.

    Anyone looking at a map of the Grand River Watershed can easily see how very near Westover station sits to our most vulnerable aquifer. It is a highly sensitive region that begs for proper attention. Having a workable action plan in place may prove vital in times to come.

    A 2007 “pipeline performance” report by the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board found 12,848 pipeline incidents across 377,000 kilometres of energy pipelines over a 15-year period. Internal corrosion was the most prevalent cause of pipeline failure at 57 per cent followed by external corrosion at 12 per cent.

    And this was before the Kalamazoo disaster and many more since 2007. It pipeline breakdown time and we have pipes the same age of the same materials. Of course, I’m concerned. Who wouldn’t be?

  6. Rod B January 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I agree internal corrosion is definitely the biggest issues with pipelines like this. A few other things you many want to investigate are: Where the closest upstream and downstream shutdown valves in relation to Cambridge? How long does it take them to close these valves? For example is it a manual task (i.e. field person needs to drive to valve after being notified of issues) or is it something that can be turned off by pressing a valve in the main control center. Has the pipeline or coating ever been changed along the pipeline?

    In the US there are very detailed rules and regulations about how quickly (i.e immediate, 30 days, 60 days …) companies have to replace pipe that has been found to have corrosion based on the amount of corrosion. I don’t know (but I doubt) we have similar regulations.

  7. Sue Taylor January 27, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Rod,
    Yes. These questions are all on our list of things we want to know. If these pipes were running through the city, it would be as simple as a Public Works request. Things are less simple due the location and other factors. Of course, we know the regulations regarding the rights of way that would have been granted along these land tracts. I’m experienced in land title searches, but not all the information we want would surface from there. It’s good to know that we have some very strong resources behind us and eventually we will have all the information. This isn’t exactly my first trip to town. I’ve been involved in environmental issues for many years, including the Oak Ridges Moraine where we had great success. It’s all just a matter of time. We will keep you posted as we progress.

    Our deepest concern lies in the manner in which Enbridge responds. If past performance is to be our indicator, our concerns are well founded. It took them 13 hours to respond to Kalamazoo. Go to youtube.com and search for John Bolenbaugh, a former Enbridge employee and documenter of the damages and cover up. This is how Enbridge does business – lies, cover ups, failure to meet regulations, and just a general disrespect for lands and people.

    This video shows John putting a shovel to the Kalamzoo river AFTER Enbridge claimed it was all fine and dandy – nice and clean. Of course I have deep concerns. Who wouldn’t?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gXaYZVGw44&feature=related

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