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‘Piperisks’ reveals a failed pipeline process

July 29, 2015

Here’s a change of pace from the historical studies that have dominated this blog in recent months. I’ve been deeply involved in cross-Canada efforts to rein in extraction of tar sands oil, which spells ruin for the world’s climate. We’ve just won a major victory in delaying Toronto’s own tar sands pipeline project, “Line 9.” Here’s my report on an important resource for this struggle, as posted today on the “East End Against Line 9” blog.

By John Riddell. ‘First the verdict, then the evidence.’ That was the gist of the Crown Solicitor’s response to Chippewas of the Thames First Nation’s complaint that it had not been consulted about Enbridge’s dangerous Line 9 pipeline project.First nations against pipelines

As summarized in the Piperisks blog, the Crown lawyer at a June 16 hearing in Toronto claimed that ‘it is pointless to allow Crown Consultation [with First Nations] until after [regulatory] approvals are given.’

Alice in Wonderland

This farcical stance, right out of Alice in Wonderland, is only one of many bizarre aspects of the Line 9 process documented in Louisette Lanteigne’s Piperisks – one of the most insightful blogs on Enbridge’s Sarnia-to-Montreal tar sands pipeline venture. (See list of related blogs below.)

Louisette Lanteigne

Louisette Lanteigne

Lanteigne, a Waterloo-based housewife, is a close analyst of Canada’s pipeline regulator, the National Energy Board (NEB). Her criticism of the NEB’s stewardship on pipeline valves was instrumental in the NEB’s October 20-14 decision to impose a costly eight months’ delay on the Line 9 project.

The blog’s purpose, Lanteigne writes, is to “mitigate the risks for all communities associated with this project.” In fact, however, it shows up the entire NEB process regarding Line 9 to be a failure, indeed, something of a fiasco.

Blog entries are well sourced, concise, and clear – an effective summary of new and previously reported insights.

Regulatory revelations

Here are four more revealing items that were new to me:

  1. The NEB’s entire review of Line 9 never covered the pipeline as a whole. Its scope was limited “to only the area of the pumping station properties without regard for the impact that the change of pressure and flow would have on the physical pipes in between the pumping stations or the communities and landowners in between.”
  2. During its 40-year history before the present upgrade, Enbridge’s Line 9 has had “almost a spill a year over the course of its history” totalling, according to CTV’s W5, 19,281 barrels of oil. Leaks have also been reported on the Sarnia-to-Westover portion of Line 9 that Enbridge has brought back into service.
  3. In February 2015, the NEB appointed a single individual, Ron Wallace, “to act with the full authority of the Board” in reviewing all future filings for this project. Line 7 and Line 9According to the NEB, Wallace has previously held senior management positions with Petro-Canada and CanStar Oil Sands Ltd.
  4. A total of no less than 43 municipalities and regional governments along the route of Line 9 – 13 in Ontario and 30 in Quebec – submitted resolutions demanding a hydrostatic test of the entire pipeline. The NEB agreed in June 2015 to order such tests – yet another delay of up to six months – but only for small stretches of pipe (adding up to 60 kilometres) and at stress levels below industry norms.

Community-based resources

Piperisks is only one of a spectrum of community-based blogs and sites created to sound the alarm about Enbridge’s Line 9 and related projects. Here are some other resources worth consulting:

  • Les Citoyens au courant is a Quebec-based group that has spearheaded resistance to Line 9 in the Montreal
  • The People Versus Enbridge Line 9’s goal is “No pipelines without consent! No tar sands!” The site offers comprehensive news on No Line 9 activity in the Toronto
  • PipeLeaks is an ambitious and sophisticated resource directed by Toronto-based activist Kevin Metcalf, aiming to link those in many communities who share a concern with pipeline issues and the well-being of the planet.
  • Pipe Up Against Enbridge is a Facebook page maintained by opponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project in British Columbia and Alberta.
  • StopLine9-Toronto is maintained by the Stop Line 9-Toronto network, facilitated by Gerry Dunn.
  • Toronto East End No Tar, published by East End Against Line 9.
  •  is the website of the Toronto No Line 9 Network, which unites community organisations opposed to Line 9 with other concerned groups and individuals.

Lizard - I pledge to resist Line 9The final  two sites reflect the pre-2013 phase of the Line 9 conflict.

  • Hamilton Line 9: “No Line 9 Reversal — Confronting the Tar Sands in Hamilton”.
  • Line 9 Communities, based in London, Ontario, and maintained by Emily Ferguson.
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