Just as Enbridge files to reverse its Line 9 pipeline in order to ship dangerous tar sands oil east for export, municipalities across Ontario are stepping up and asking questions. It’s no wonder, as this project would bring significant new risks to Ontario but no rewards for those thousands of Ontarians living along the route.
So far, councils in communities along the pipeline’s route – Hamilton, Burlington, Mississauga, and Toronto have passed motions, requested more information or sought to get involved in the approval process.
The more people who learn about this project, the more people ask What does this mean for my community?
Enbridge’s proposal – a bid to pipe more dangerous tar sands oil through the most densely populated parts of Canada, crossing all the major rivers draining into Lake Ontario – could impact the drinking water of millions.
Shipping diluted bitumen is more dangerous than shipping conventional oil. Pipelines transporting dilbit spill much more often than those that don’t.
That’s why the U.S. government is actively studying this issue.
When spilled, diluted bitumen releases clouds of toxic chemicals like benzene (a known carcinogen) into the environment. This poses serious health risks to nearby residents, causing both short-term and long-term health effects.
And unlike conventional oil, tar sands oil sinks when spilled into water, coating the river or lakebed. Traditional cleanup methods don’t work, causing lasting damage and much greater expense.
This threat isn’t theoretical. Enbridge has already had serious tar sands oil spills on other pipelines that have fouled rivers, damaged the environment, made people sick and cost enormous amounts to clean up. U.S. regulators referred to Enbridge as the ‘Keystone Kops’ over their response.
With Enbridge’s poor track record on safety, questions about the condition of this nearly 40-year-old buried pipeline, and clear threats to drinking water, municipalities are smart to get involved to protect their citizens.
We should all question why our communities and our drinking water should be put in harm’s way, just so oil companies can export tar sands oil.