No 870 Posted by fw, October 04, 2013
“Canada’s two largest cities [Toronto, Montreal] are raising strong objections to Enbridge’s plans to ship tar sands bitumen through Line 9 and helping to encourage multiple protests…as the National Energy Board hearings begin on the controversial proposals. While startling revelations of the potential threats to drinking water and the safety of Toronto subway passengers are turning up the heat, there is also new evidence that the expansion of the pipeline flows will cost thousands of manufacturing jobs in Ontario and Quebec…. public protests over Line 9…will not be examined in the NEB hearings. Neither will the effects on climate change or threats of manufacturing jobs losses” —Hamilton CATCH News
Ironically, this post contradicts Enbridge’s scaremongering claim that “thousands of workers will be on the streets if Line 9 plans rejected” by arguing that there will indeed be job losses, not by rejecting Line 9, but by approving Line 9 plans.
Canada’s two largest cities are raising strong objections to Enbridge’s plans to ship tar sands bitumen through Line 9 and helping to encourage multiple protests including at least three in Hamilton as the National Energy Board hearings begin on the controversial proposals. While startling revelations of the potential threats to drinking water and the safety of Toronto subway passengers are turning up the heat, there is also new evidence that the expansion of the pipeline flows will cost thousands of manufacturing jobs in Ontario and Quebec.
An Idle No More rally has been called for noon on Monday at Dundurn Castle on Line 9 and other issues affecting First Nations. The Hamilton 350 committee is hosting the national tar sands reality tour at McMaster on October 17 and then holding a “Get on the Bus” rally two days later to take people to the demonstration outside the NEB hearings in Toronto. The group is also promoting the free “Rock Line 9” concert this Sunday afternoon in Toronto that features Sarah Harmer (an intervenor in the NEB hearings), Gord Downie and the Sadies, and other groups (see details below).
Enbridge wants to increase flows to 300,000 barrels per day in its 38-year-old Line 9 pipe between Sarnia and Montreal, as well as add bitumen to shipments and reverse the flow direction. A portion of the argument filed with the NEB by the City of Toronto on behalf of Hamilton and several other Ontario municipal governments has attracted major media attention by pointing to one potentially horrendous pipeline spill scenario:
“The Finch subway station was opened the year before construction of the Enbridge pipeline was completed. The pipeline is located between the TTC’s Bishop Avenue entrance stairway, and the TTC escalators that lead to the adjacent Metrolinx terminal. The pipeline itself is understood to be approximately one foot above the subway structure. No as-built information is available for the pipeline. Neither the TTC, Toronto Fire Services, nor Enbridge appear to have any specific contingency plan to manage a leak of petroleum should this occur near the TTC entrances. The top stair of the Bishop Avenue stairwell is at grade and provides no barrier to the flow of the product should there be a release. If any petroleum product was discharged either down the stairs or the escalators, or by other routes into the TTC concourse, platform or track level, there would be an enormous risk to thousands of daily passengers and TTC workers.”
Toronto’s submission, “filed with the concurrence of other liaison group members” including Hamilton, also reveals that “Enbridge has advised that it has no measures currently in place to compensate residents, businesses or other third parties along Line 9 in the event they need to be evacuated” and demands that the NEB impose such requirements in the conditions of approval if the pipeline plans are approved. Montreal officials slammed Enbridge this week for refusing to say how it would respond to a pipeline accident that could affect the rivers around the island city that supply its drinking water.
The Toronto submission also points to post-Walkerton Ontario laws intended to ensure safe drinking water and says a spill could mean that “municipal operators may need to shut off pumps at the intake during a spill event to avoid bringing raw water containing elevated benzene levels into the treatment plant”. It also lists multiple major recent pipeline spills and raises specific concern about Enbridge’s plan to transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) through Line 9 because “a spill of dilbit could be significantly more difficult to clean and recover and as such may involve greater costs”.
Opposition to more tar sands extraction facilitated by Enbridge’s expansion and export plans is at the centre of public protests over Line 9 but will not be examined in the NEB hearings. Neither will the effects on climate change or threats of manufacturing jobs losses – the subject of a Hamilton citizen’s investigation released this week. With the assistance of McMaster emeritus economic professor Atif Kubursi, Ken Stone has calculated that the planned 25 percent increase in Line 9 volumes will likely mean the loss of more than 4300 years of employment in Canadian manufacturing.
“The finding echoes concerns expressed by former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair and many others about the distortions being imposed on the economy by the increased reliance on exports of oil,” argues Stone, pointing to a 2006 Library of Parliament study that concluded Canada was already suffering “symptoms of the Dutch Disease” reflected in a higher exchange rate and manufacturing job losses. He contends that the country is falling into the classic “staples trap” by “focusing on the export of a single commodity that is finite and has a limited market” and “showing signs of becoming a rentier economy”.
The NEB hearings begin next Wednesday in Montreal before shifting to Toronto the following week and will be live-streamed on the internet. Opening statements by Enbridge will be followed by arguments from 40 intervenors including oil companies, unions, governments, business and citizen groups as well as individuals.
Line 9 related events include the following: