Enbridge Oil: Health and Safety Concerns for Cambridge

By  | December 15, 2011 | 9 Comments | Filed under: Enbridge

By Scot Ferguson-Barber and Sue Taylor

Environmental Risks – Health and Safety Concerns

Enbridge Corporation was in the news several times last year because of two major oil leaks, with a third being reported last September.

The reported third leak was from Line 10 which runs through Westover, Ont (A “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” berg between Cambridge and Hamilton.)

Although it’s “out of the Cambridge jurisdiction” officially, if a break were to occur in the 40 year old pipes it would have a devastating impact on our area. The Beverly Swamp, Puslinch Lake, Mill Creek, Shades Mills, The Speed and Grand Rivers would all feel the repercussions, not to mention the groundwater in the area. You don’t need a degree in environmental engineering to see the potential danger by comparing the two maps.

According to the G.R.C.A. 80 of the Species at Risk in Ontario can be found in the Grand River watershed. The Grand River watershed comprises 25 per cent of the Canadian land area draining into Lake Erie, and 10 per cent of the total Canada/U.S.A. drainage area. There are 82 species of fish in the Grand River watershed, which is about 50 per cent of all the fish species found in Canada.

It’s not only the wildlife who are at risk.

A recent report filed by the Michigan Department of Community Health found that nearly 60 percent of individuals living in the vicinity of Enbridge’s Kalamazoo River spill experienced respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms consistent with acute exposure to benzene and other petroleum related chemicals.   In addition to their short term effects, long term exposure to benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons has been known to cause cancer.

October 2011, over a year later, Enbridge cleanup continues

The spill has raised new questions about the age of the Enbridge pipeline network. Much of that system is decades old and built using protective coatings that have been shown to break down over time.  The problems that have dogged Enbridge have provoked new concern over how the company will continue to operate half-century-old assets in coming years.  The Michigan spill “is a harbinger of things to come,” said Glen Perry, a prominent Alberta pipeline builder who helped found the Alliance natural gas pipeline. “What we’re learning is some of that old pipeline doesn’t have a 100-year life, even though maybe they hoped it did,” he said. “I don’t know what the life is. But for sure these old lines are going to have to eventually get replaced. And I think what Enbridge is seeing is just the front end of that.”

According to Matt Price, campaign manager for Environmental Defence,  Enbridge needs to address safety issues with the line. It’s covered in a single layer polyethylene tape, the same coating used on both the problematic Lines 6A and 6B. “We believe there should be an independent assessment of the more technical pipeline issues given Enbridge’s recent track record,” he said. “They were maintaining their pipelines were safe right up until they weren’t.”  Price said he’d like to see full public hearings into the pipeline reversal plan.  “They’ve waved off any public engagement from the get-go,” he said. “The public needs to know this is going on.”

Every year Enbridge strives for the lofty goal of zero releases, or no spills. In spite of its stated objective thousands of litres of dangerous fluids are released from the company’s pipelines and holding tanks into the environment each year.   Between 1999 and 2010, across all of Enbridge’s operations there have been 804 spills that have released 168,645 barrels (approximately 26.81 million litres, or 7.08 million gallons) of hydrocarbons into the environment.  This amounts to approximately half of the oil that spilled from the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez after it struck a rock in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1988.   Based on the number of spills that Enbridge causes every year, despite what the company says about pipeline safety, a rupture, leak or spill is seemingly inevitable.                                                    These figures were compiled from Enbridge’s own Environmental, Health and Safety and Corporate Social Responsibility Reports, http://csr.enbridge.com/


The track record of Enbridge is less than exemplary. Paying for cleanups from an oil spill are “part of doing business.”

It could happen here. This is a situation that few people are aware of, and awareness is the first step in being prepared, and avoiding a potential disaster.


9 Responses to Enbridge Oil: Health and Safety Concerns for Cambridge

  1. Scot Ferguson-Barber December 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I just checked the numbers and we have had visits from the city of Cambridge and the House of Commons. I contacted all of the local politicians to make them aware of the situation.

  2. omnigorn December 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    A year from now we’ll read this again and nothing will have been done.

  3. Jimm Hillis December 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    That may be the case but no one can complain that the info wasn’t out there.

  4. Scot Ferguson-Barber December 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    i guarantee you that won’t happen.

  5. Dawn Sharpe December 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Great report , thank-you too bad The Cambridge Times newspaper didn’t find this news worthy !!! Oh I suppose The Cambridge Times would not have room for the advertisments considering they take up 3/4 of most pages in their paper keep up the terrific reporting for Cambridge Scot

  6. Scot Ferguson-Barber December 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Sue and Brendan dig most of the work. There are more stories to come, we just don’t want this to be the only story getting attention here.

  7. Scot Ferguson-Barber December 16, 2011 at 7:26 am

    We had visits yesterday from city hall, Ontario Legislature, House of Commons and Torstar. Everyone is aware.

  8. Robert Ross December 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

    For those wondering where these pipelines lay, here is a link to google maps, if you follow what look like dirt roads these are the rights-of-way for the lines.



    Notice the small brooks and streams in these areas.

    While we need oil, obviously, we must be certain that safety overrides all other considerations.

    The actual condition of the pipes is not known to the public, only to Enbridge.

    Years of friction of high velocity oil moving through will have worn them. Just as running water wears rock, so does oil wear the pipes. The condition of the valves, safety reliefs etc is all of importance.This is not as simple as changing the direction of flow.

  9. Antonio April 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    This is just another piavocotron to fuel popular resistance to these pipelines among British Columbians. That the review board would pull something so blatant demonstrates their conclusions are pre-ordained and, hence, to British Columbians, corrupt.

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