Pipeline not worth the risk

By  | October 7, 2013 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Editorial
Cartoon By Kevin Burnett

Cartoon By Kevin Burnett

As the Spin Doctors from Enbridge Oil continue to sprinkle their kidinky dust on the residents of Cambridge and surrounding areas they find that they are losing their bamboozle factor.

Recent protests and coverage from the mainstream media has raised awareness of the potential disaster in our midst.

In our first issue, in January of 2012, we provided extensive coverage questioning the integrity of the 40 year pipeline that runs under the Grand River just south of Cambridge.

Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of the pipeline, increase its capacity to 300,000 barrels per day, from 240,000 barrels, and carry oilsands bitumen, as opposed to the light crude oil it currently transports. Bitumen is a heavy, thick form of crude oil, and much more difficult to clean up and dangerous to the environment than light crude.

At that time Mayor Craig told me the he didn’t think it was a “Cambridge Problem.” I contacted Rob Deutschman, Mayor of North Dumphries, who told me he “would look into it.”

The City of Cambridge website brags about Cambridge being the only city in Canada designated as a “Groundwater Guardian Community.”

While that may sound impressive, investigation shows that all it takes is to fill out a form online and send a fee to the company, which is based in Nebraska.

I contacted Ken Hall, an Enbridge Oil rep from Sarnia.

Ken was more than co-operative. He assured me that the pipes were monitored 24 hours a day, and there were regular visual checks. He told me there was an emergency plan on file with the Cambridge Fire Department, and that Enbridge would be glad to hold a public meeting in Cambridge to address our concerns.

After digging a little deeper I discovered that the pipes are monitored from Edmonton by computer.

I didn’t find that very reassuring. If it were to happen here, where the pipe runs under the Grand River, it would be in Lake Eerie before it was stopped.

The only evidence I could find of “visual inspections” were flyovers done from the Brantford Airport. I talked to some pilots, who told me they look for “ground discoloration.”

I filed a freedom of information request asking for a “Copy of the emergency response plan from Enbridge Oil.” When finally obtained the documents they had been written sometime in the late 1990’s and never updated.

Enbridge did hold a public meeting in Cambridge last year. It was held on a Wednesday at 5 P.M., and not advertised in The Times. (Although it was in The Record.)

Since then there have been enough protests to catch the attention of the mainstream media, although they seem susceptible to the corporate bafflegab being espoused by Enbridge. The Cambridge Times recently reported an emergency response training exercise

The exercise simulated emergency response to an oil spill and involved the deployment of booms that would channel, contain and absorb such a spill, if one were to occur.”

While it may seem to the casual observer that they are taking a proactive stance, the fact of the matter is that bitumen doesn’t float, it sinks to the bottom, and if Line 9 is transporting bitumen the only thing that the “booms” will channel will be the dead bodies of the fish and wildlife the oil kills.

Cleaning up spills is the price of doing business. In July, 2010 Enbridge owned Line 6a, which was built around the same time as Line 9, ruptured and spilled 3.3 million litres of bitumenl into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo incident is the largest onland spill in the history of the U.S., and has already cost Enbridge more than $1 billion, and they are still cleaning it up.

With our aging Line 9 it’s not a matter of “if” there’s a spill, it’s a matter of “when.” Recent presentations to the GRCA and Regional Council by environmental groups remove any plausible deniability from our local politicians. They can’t claim that they weren’t warned.

The National Energy Board will hold hearings in Toronto from October 16 to 19, but only pre-approved interveners are allowed to speak.

Given Crime Sinister Harper’s stand on Keystone XL and the oil industry in general don’t expect anything to change.


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