No 722 Posted by fw, April 17, 2013
“The newly-revealed NEB rules were imposed by the federal government as part of its omnibus legislation last spring, and have generated media incredulity and even an editorial denunciation from the Globe and Mail. Local organizations like Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton 350 Committee are urging individuals and groups to submit the application form as a way of challenging the restrictions and forcing the NEB to either approve applications or confirm that its review process is largely off-limits to the public.” —CATCH
A recent Line 9 pipeline spill in the Hamilton region and an Arkansas pipeline rupture will likely contribute to local public anxiety over Enbridge’s plans to transport toxic tar sands oil through Line 9. Harper’s attempts to silence public input at upcoming National Energy Board (NEB) review hearings will just exacerbate public concern. To read more about this Line 9 controversy, click on the following linked title. Or read the reprint below with added subheadings and highlighted text.
Enbridge and National Energy Board facing more controversy over Line 9 plans
A small oil leak from Line 9 near Westover is adding to the controversy around Enbridge’s proposal to increase the flow rate in the cross-Ontario pipeline and begin using it to transport diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. The company’s plans are also hampered by new revelations about the Arkansas pipeline rupture, and widespread outrage over the National Energy Board (NEB) requirement that residents complete an application form before being allowed to submit written comments on the Line 9 plans.
Public urged to force NEB’s hand over application rules
The newly-revealed NEB rules were imposed by the federal government as part of its omnibus legislation last spring, and have generated media incredulity and even an editorial denunciation from the Globe and Mail. Local organizations like Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton 350 Committee are urging individuals and groups to submit the application form as a way of challenging the restrictions and forcing the NEB to either approve applications or confirm that its review process is largely off-limits to the public.
The revelations spurred the Ontario NDP to demand a provincial environmental assessment, and the ruling Liberal Party to say it will consider this option and to promise that it will be an active intervenor in the NEB process.
Enbridge releases details about the Westover leak
The Westover leak was reported to the NEB by Enbridge in a required monthly review of the company’s construction work associated with the reversal of flows in the Sarnia to Westover 9A section of the pipeline approved last summer by the NEB. It was discovered when exposing a portion of the pipe where a “stopple plug” was to be installed.
“As the hydrovac operator re-positioned his ‘boom’ to a different position, he noticed a sheen of oil on the surface of the water, then discovered that the body bleed piping on a 30’ mainline value had been damaged and oil was leaking out”, states the report covering the February 15 to March 15 construction period, which goes on to estimate that “approximately .14b (23 litres) escaped to the ground.”
The report says the bleeder valve was replaced “and the pipeline was restarted” followed by a cleanup. “The damaged pipe riser was sent for non-destructive examination testing and the results are pending”, it continues. “The worker involved was taken for post incident alcohol and drug testing.”
Leak underscores public concerns about Line 9 safety
The incident was apparently not serious enough to require a report to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada which tracks pipeline spills, including a much larger one in 2001 from an Enbridge pipe near Binbrook, but it underlines worries about the company’s proposal to bump up volumes in Line 9 to over 300,000 barrels a day, while reversing the flow direction to allow shipment of western oil products including diluted bitumen.
Massive rupture of older Exxon-Mobil pipeline in Arkansas exposes pipelines pressure risks
New details are emerging about the massive rupture of an Exxon-Mobil pipeline in Arkansas. Like the Line 9 proposal, flows had been reversed in the 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline to allow shipment of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands.
Exxon-Mobil continues to clean up after the 1.5 million litre spill of that Canadian tar sands product in Arkansas on Good Friday when its 70-year-old Pegasus pipeline suffered a 22-foot-long split – nearly four times the tear in an Enbridge pipe that polluted Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The remediation of the latter is continuing 33 months after it occurred with costs expected to exceed $1 billion.
“At the time of the rupture, the pipeline was operating at 708 psig (pound-force per square inch gauge), about 14 percent below its maximum operating pressure of 820 psig,” reports Inside Climate News, the independent media outlet that has just been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its pipeline coverage. “That’s more than twice the pressure of a fire hose, which can spray water 30 floors into the air. But a fire hose is a few inches in diameter, and the Pegasus is 20 inches wide.”
Line 9 opponents skeptical of Enbridge’s claim it will not extend pipeline beyond Quebec City
Enbridge’s 38-year-old Line 9 pipe is approved to operate between 585 and 805 psig between Sarnia and Hamilton. Its application to the NEB is to increase the flow volumes to 300,000 barrels a day and reverse the flow direction to allow shipment of western crude oil products including diluted bitumen.
While the company insists it only wants to use the Sarnia to Montreal Line 9 to service refineries as far east as Quebec City, others believe their objectives include export of bitumen through New England to foreign markets – a plan that Enbridge unveiled in 2008 but has since withdrawn. In addition to the Line 9 application, Enbridge is seeking to double the capacity of its Line 6B that ruptured in Kalamazoo and which supplies Sarnia, and has now filed an application with the NEB to build a new 180 km pipeline from Edmonton to Hardisty, Alberta that could also help feed tar sands materials to Michigan and Ontario.
The work currently underway at Westover was approved by the NEB in July last year and includes “infrastructure additions and modifications” at Enbridge’s Westover terminal, North Westover pump station, and at a “densitometer site 4.12 km west” of the pump station.