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NEBs green light for Line 9 sacrifices waterways, public health and the climate
February 9, 2015The National Energy Board (NEB) gave the green light to Enbridge Inc.'s contentious Line 9B pipeline on February 6, despite the company's failure to make necessary safety improvements.
The decision means that critical safety measures will not be implemented before Enbridge starts running highly volatile tar sands crude oil through the 40 year-old pipeline. The pipeline crosses every tributary to much of southern Ontarios water supply.
In October, the NEB ordered Enbridge to meet several safety conditions prior to operating Line 9, including the installation of shut off valves within 1 km on both sides of major water crossings. Enbridge spent the next four months convincing the NEB that the current 62 valves they have in place are sufficient to meet this condition despite there being over 300 water crossings along the pipeline, including the Don, Humber, Rouge and Grand Rivers, none of which have valves on both sides.
"If there was any question the NEB is a rubber stamp, this back-pedalling puts that to rest," says John Sharkey, a member of East End Against Line 9. "The correspondence from Enbridge on the valve issue would have us believe they won the topographical lottery, and that amazingly there are hills in all the right places and gravity would prevent an oil spill, and therefore really there was no need for so many new valves."
Enbridge plans to pump highly controversial and toxic diluted bitumen through this 40-year-old pipeline - a substance that the pipeline was never built to carry and one which would increase the internal pressure on the pipe drastically. Municipalities and First Nations along the pipeline route have sounded the alarm, citing a high probability of spills resulting in contamination of water and land.
"The (NEB) process is unable to discharge the duty to consult and accommodate, lacks transparency in decision making, and is contrary to the principle of free, prior and informed consent," states Stan Beardy, regional chief of 133 First Nations in Ontario, in his letter to the NEB on Feb. 5.
In 2010 Line 9's sister pipeline in Michigan, Enbridge's Line 6B, built at the same time and from the same materials, ruptured, spilling over a million gallons of diluted bitumen into the Kalamazoo River. It was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
People living with Line 9 under their houses, schools, hospitals, farms need to very loudly and publicly tell Enbridge they will not allow their health and water to be sacrificed for profit.
"The NEB clearly has no intention of upholding their own safety measures to ensure the health of our water and communities. It is not in the public interest to go on supporting tar sands development projects which contribute exorbitantly to climate change, when basic precautions to protect our drinking water are not observed," states Leigh Paulseth, a member of Scarborough Bitumen Free Future.
To prevent Enbridge's Line 9 project from going ahead an intense campaign of public opposition that requires renewed efforts from municipal and provincial governments, alongside continuing efforts of First Nations and community groups.
"Communities working together to resist these pipeline projects has been proven to work -- look at how long the Keystone XL has been stalled, look at the Northern Gateway Pipeline through BC, NEB approved, but basically abandoned by Enbridge because they can't get social license to built it. The planned TransCanada Energy East pipeline it poised to face the same doomed fate: public opposition to pipelines is a wildfire," states Jessica Lyons, a No Line 9 Toronto Municipal Action Committee member.
This statement has been issued by Toronto No Line 9 activists.
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