Slip Sliding with the Spin Doctors Editorial by Scot Ferguson-Barber

By  | February 2, 2012 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Editorial, Enbridge

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away 

Slip Sliding away

Paul Simon

As we have been watching our water pipes disintegrate across the city we have to wonder what would happen if it were oil? The oil pipes were also built 40 years ago.

After publishing the story about the Enbridge Pipeline in our backyard, the backpedaling and bobbing and weaving started in earnest.

Brendan, Citizen journalism intern, couldn’t make any headway with Enbridge. But after we published I managed to contact Ken Hall, an Enbridge Oil rep fromSarnia.

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 inCambridgeto address our concerns.

Everything’s fine, right? Not quite.

The pipes are monitored fromEdmontonby computer, the same “monitoring system” that was in place during the spill last year on the same line. 800,000 gallons of oil spilled into the river before they could stop it.

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

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

I had already asked contacts on the Cambridge Fire Department, past and present, about an emergency plan from Enbridge in case of an oil spill. No one knew anything about it.  I went to City Hall and filed a freedom of information request asking for a “Copy of the emergency response plan from Enbridge Oil.”

Two days later I got a call from the clerk’s office telling me they couldn’t find what I was looking for.

We contacted the Mayor, who already had Enbridge coming in for a meeting. Sue Taylor and I met with Mayor Craig to allay some of our concerns prior to his meeting with them. I have written many a column here over the years, and taken Mayor Craig and council to task several times over issues that affect the community. Everything from poppies on veteran’s headstones to TCE Contamination at Northstar, to crack cocaine and prostitution in the core has been the subject of some scathing columns that have resulted in changes in our community.

Such columns are seldom necessary these days; as when I call a member of council or the mayor I usually get answers.  I didn’t think this would be a problem, after all the City ofCambridgeclaims to be the “Groundwater Guardians of the Region,” and their website is full of information about how precious our groundwater is.

I’m not sure what kind of kidinky dust the Spin Doctors from Enbridge sprinkled on our poor mayor, but he came back with enough leftover bamboozle for everyone.

(1) The pipeline is approximately 20 kilometers south of Cambridge in North Dumfries.  (2) Enbridge emergency plans are in place and these can be accessed through their website or by contacting their representative. (3) They are planning to have a public meeting in North Dumfries (2013) possibly inAyr.

I didn’t find any solace in any of these answers. It seems our mayor had lost ground, as Enbridge had already agreed to have a meeting here, with no mention of the inspection reports I had asked for.

On January 30th I got a call from the clerk’s office that they had found the Emergency Plan from Enbridge. Going over the documents I found that they are over 10 years out of date.

From Emergency Plan obtained under FOI obrained Jan. 30/2012

There is ample evidence to be concerned about, and by bringing it out in the open and making people aware of the potential danger we are removing the option of deniability from those we entrust to look after our safety.

If I couldn’t get anywhere with Mayor Craig I’m sure it would be a daunting task to approach each politician individually, but they are not hard to find. They can be found up and down the banks of theGrand River. The problem is they can’t hear because their heads are stuck in the sand, and they won’t listen until they are neck deep in oil.

I have talked to Gillian McEachern, a well known and respected environmental advocate who works with Environment DefenseCanada. He is coming here fromOttawato help form an action plan.

By raising our voices in unison, the authorities will have to do something. This is the power of social media.


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2 Responses to Slip Sliding with the Spin Doctors Editorial by Scot Ferguson-Barber

  1. Keith Tobey February 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I am very encouraged to see such good investigative journalism going on at The Citizen. You have made me aware of a serious issue that I should have known about but didn’t. Let’s hope that the scenarios of which you speak never come to pass but we must pressure all concerned to take this seriously. Corporations have no conscience. Our governments must require them to be responsible.

  2. Margaret Vance May 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Gillian McEachern is a lady. I have spoken to her several times.

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