For anyone who follows energy issues, the Enbridge name has become synonymous with Marshall, Michigan and Kalamazoo. It was in that remote US community where an Enbridge pipeline – identical in construction to Line 9 – ruptured and went undetected for over 17 hours, spilling anywhere from 877,000 to 1,000,000 US Gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River
The US National Transportation Safety Board published a report on July 10, 2012 citing numerous deficiencies in Enbridge’s integrity management procedures, inadequate training of control center personnel, and insufficient public awareness and education as contributing factors to the disaster.
Click Here for the Full Report
On March 14th, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency ordered Enbridge back to Marshall Michigan to dredge submerged oil which in the company’s opinion, was better left in the river to naturally biodegrade. Enbridge even requested that the EPA prove by forensic identification that the oil in the river was in fact from the 6B spill and not from other contamination source points along the Kalamazoo. Testing results concluded that the submerged oil was in fact from the Enbridge rupture.
Click Here for the EPA Order
Enbridge professes that they have cleaned up there act and are a much more responsible company these days. They’ve even refreshed the look of the Edmonton control center – responsible for remotely monitoring daily pipeline activities and concerns – in order to make it a more enjoyable work environment for employees. What they have failed to do is reassure the public that they have a robust emergency response plan. The emergency response document submitted during the Line 9A hearing had an incredible amount of information blanked out due to “security issues”.
Click Here for the Enbridge Emergency Response Document
Is this a company we trust with an aging pipeline in our back yards?
This is not a debate about the oil sands. The NEB List of Issues clearly states that upstream and downstream effects (i.e. climate change), as well as the impact of oil sands development will not be considered in the upcoming hearing. The Line 9 debate is about community safety and environmental protection. Although the pipeline has been buried beneath the feet of the more than 9 million people living within 50 km for the past 40 years, many were not aware of it. The proposed Enbridge reversal brings to light the mere presence of the line and places a spotlight on the company’s troublesome safety record. Going green will be a transition. We MUST think rationally and take all possible measures to minimize risk along the way. If there is a NEED for a west to east pipeline, it should be built to the engineering codes of today, consider both upstream and downstream activities, and be subject to a complete environmental assessment.
Procedural Update No. 1
- Revised List of Issues – #3 and #8 have been slightly modified (Appendix I)
- Application to Participate Form (Appendix II)
- Guidance (Appendix III)
Requirements of Request to Participate Form:
- Personal Contact Info (Name, Address, Phone# etc.)
- Declaration of whether you will be ‘directly affected’ or have ‘relevant information or expertise’ (check box). Also, declare the source of your knowledge (eg. academic, local/regional, aboriginal, professional, or other) Note: As long as you justify why your information needs to be heard, EVERYBODY is eligible to participate.
- Explanation as to which issue you will address from the Issues List
- Your Level of Participation (Letter of Comment or Intervenor) Note: Intervenors are eligible for the Board’s Participant Funding Program
- Choice of Language to receive correspondence
- Acceptance of Privacy Agreement
- Declaration that you have permission to speak on behalf of others
- Contact information of an authorized representative
- Curriculum Vitae, Reference Letter, Description of Relevant Experience, etc.
PLEASE do not be intimidated by the paperwork. It’s free to apply for participant status.
For any inquiries about participating, contact NEB Process Advisor Michael Benson at email@example.com or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2002 (July 4th) – Cohasset, Minnesota – 6,000 barrels. Cause: Cracking caused by train shipping induced cracking of the pipe being delivered. 2003 (January 24th) – Douglas County, Wisconsin – 2,380 barrels. 2007 (January 1st) – Superior, Wisconsin – 1,500 barrels. Cause: Incomplete fusion of a longitudinal weld at the pipe maker that failed as pressure cycle was established as the cause. 2007 (February 2nd) – Rusk County, Wisconsin – 4,800 barrels – only 2,066 recovered. 2007 (November 13th) – Clearbrook Minnesota – Line 3. 2007 (November 27th) – Clearbrook, Minnesota – killed two employees. Enbridge was cited for failing to safely and adequately perform maintenance and repair activities, clear the designated work area from possible sources of ignition, and hire properly trained and qualified workers. 2009 (May 21st) – Superior, Wisconsin – 155 barrels. 2010 (January 2nd) – Neche, North Dakota – Line 3 – 3784 barrels released – only 2,237 recovered. Cause: Material defect. 2010 (April 17th) – Deer River, Minnesota – Line 2. Cause: Crack-like feature associated with the longitudinal weld seam on inside of the pipe. 2010 (July 26th) – Marshall, Michigan – Line 6B – 27,132 barrels. Cause: Known but unrepaired cracks and external corrosion. 2010 (September 9th) – Romeoville, Illinois – Line 6A – 7,500 barrels. 2012 (Feb 15th) – Arenac County, Michigan – oil discovered in soil around an Enbridge oil pipeline. 2012 – Grand Marsh, Wisconsin – 1,200 barrels – pipeline installed in 1998. Cause: Flaws in the longitudinal welds had been seen during X-ray checks of girth welds. 2012 (November 20th) – Mokena, Illinois – 905 barrels. … Will YOUR Community Be Next?
The entire Line 9 runs from Sarnia to Montreal. Line 9A is the portion from Sarnia to Westover (north of Hamilton) which has already been approved by the NEB for a flow reversal. Line 9B is the remaining Westover to Montreal section which is now in the participant application stage. We must learn why the fight against Line 9A failed in order to better understand how we can more effectively approach Line 9B.
The NEB relies on participants – either through a Letter of Comment or as an Intervenor – to inform them of how communities along a project believe they will be impacted. Mr. Goudy from the Ontario Pipeline Landowners Association made an extremely strong argument against 9A in his final argument at the NEB hearing. Click here to see the full transcript.
What is unfortunate is that Mr. Goudy and the OPLA were one of only five community groups represented at the hearing. Both the Canadian and Ontario Pipeline Landowners Associations spoke, in addition to the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Environmental Defence and Equiterre. The remaining thirteen intervenors were all from Oil Companies, Pipeline Construction, Oil Sands Lobbies, and Government.
Where was the representation for affected municipalities and members of small communities?
Let’s learn from the situation of Line 9A Intervenors. Communities must become actively involved. Raise your voice and encourage City Councillors to act. If we don’t speak up, the NEB will not hear our concerns.
When answering questions after a March 7th Conservation Hamilton presentation, Enbridge representatives said that hypothetically, Line 9 could be twinned in the future … but that would require a new NEB application. The term “twinning” means that the company would lay another pipeline right beside the existing pipeline, considering they already have approval for the Right Of Way (ROW).
During a March 25th Whitby Operations Committee meeting, Enbridge presenters were questioned about the integrity of Line 9. Specifically, they were asked whether the company would be willing to replace the 38 year old pipeline with a new state of the art system in order to dispel any concerns about the questionable condition of Line 9. Simply answered … No. They then added, “plenty of people at Enbridge would love to replace the line and increase the capacity, but that would include major construction”. It would also cost more money to replace the line, so community safety will have to take the back seat.
Oil pipelines are no longer wrapped in polyethylene tape as it has been well documented that the tape has a tendency to dis-bond from the pipe, allowing water to contact the metal and increase the likelihood of external corrosion. The aging Line 9 is wrapped in this tape.
Before the product flows through Line 9, it must first be transported through Line 6B (2010 Kalamazoo spill), or line 5. Both of these lines are currently being replaced with larger pipes in order to increase capacity. Line 9 connects with these pipelines in Sarnia. Can we be re-assured that the extra product heading for Sarnia will stay there? Or should our communities expect to become the oil pipeline corridor of the future?
Enbridge currently has numerous applications filed with the NEB to expand it’s connections with the Alberta Oil Sands. From replacing the existing Line 2 ($117M) and Line 3 ($60M) to expanding the Edmonton terminal ($800M) and preparing to apply for a new pipeline to connect Athabasca Oil Corp’s planned Hangingstone project to it’s regional pipeline network ($200M) … it’s clear that Line 9 is only one piece of a mega project to ship Oil Sands east. After all, Line 9 is the ONLY Enbridge pipeline serving the ports of Montreal. AND Line 9 conveniently connects with the Montreal-Portland pipeline which crosses the border to access the Atlantic Ocean at Portland, Maine.
Click Here for 2012 Enbridge Applications
Click Here for 2013 Enbridge Applications
Bill C-38 was an act to implement measures announced in the 2012 federal budget. This act contained many significant changes to the environmental protection legislation in Canada.
- Public participation in pipeline hearings has now been limited to individuals who are “directly affected” or deemed to have “relevant information or expertise”.
- See Hearing Order Appendix VI (p.36) for Line 9 guidelines.
- Even if a citizen applies for participant status, is “directly affected” and has “relevant information”, the NEB can still choose to ignore their contributions.
Decision Making Power
- Cabinet now has the ability to override a decision made by the NEB on a new pipeline with a length of 40km or more. NOTE: Because the physical pipe was not included in the Line 9 application, the NEB still has final say on the Line 9 project.
- The chair of the NEB holds immense new powers. The chair may remove any member from the NEB committee who is seen to be holding up the process. Additionally, the chair may choose to vote unilaterally if consensus is not achieved.
- Decisions will be made behind closed doors and with little public scrutiny.
- Previous to Bill C-38, the NEB review extended to any considerations the Board considered relevant. This could include both upstream and downstream activities of the project.
- Regarding Line 9, the NEB now excludes “environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline”. See Appendix I – List of Issues (p.14).
Species at Risk Act (SARA)
- During review of pipeline applications, the NEB is now exempted from seeking to minimize impacts on the habitat of species at risk.
- No longer any guaranteed review to evaluate ongoing impacts to endangered species.
Lack of Transparency and Accountability
- The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is now able to exempt a designated project from going through the assessment process!
- NO MORE JOINT REVIEW PANELS – a Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency enabled review panel is prohibited. Therefore, environmental implications of major energy projects will now be decided by the energy regulator.
Eco Justice – What Bill C-38 means for the environment
David Suzuki Foundation – Bill C-38: What you need to know