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Wanted: Environmental assessment on Enbridge's Line 9

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Photo: Enbridge Pipeline from Kalamazoo Spill by NTSB

Dear Premier Kathleen Wynne, Environment Minister Jim Bradley and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli,

We request the Ontario government conduct a Provincial Environmental Assessment on Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline proposal immediately.

In 2012 the Federal Conservatives eliminated the requirement for environmental assessments for this type of project and the National Energy Board tasked with making a decision on the proposal is expected to rubber-stamp it. It is therefore up to provinces to stand up for people and the environment to ensure its residents and ecosystems will not be put in danger.

Your administration has an opportunity to prevent incalculable harm to the people and ecosystems of Ontario.

Enbridge Pipelines Inc is proposing to transport diluted tar sands bitumen (dilbit) and fracked oil across southern Ontario using a 38-year old pipeline, Line 9, that runs through 99 towns and cities, including highly populated centres such as Toronto, Sarnia, Hamilton, London and Kingston.

The pipeline passes through or comes close to 18 Indigenous communities who have not been properly consulted on the proposal, as required by Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution. The pipeline also crosses many ecologically sensitive areas and dozens of major rivers draining into Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. A spill into Lake Ontario, for example, could contaminate the drinking water of millions of Ontarians and cause permanent damage to ecosystems. 

According to Enbridge's own reports, the company is responsible for over 800 spills between 1999 and 2010. Because tar sands dilbit is more corrosive than regular crude and has to be transported at a higher temperature and pressure, the likelihood of spills is higher than with regular oil pipelines. Indeed, two of the largest pipeline spills in U.S. history have occurred from recently converted dilbit pipelines, including into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, where people suffered from headaches, nausea and respiratory ailments and where three years later, the spill has still not been cleaned up. That's because tar sands dilbit sinks to the bottom of water and is therefore much harder to clean up than regular oil.

Recently, in the wake of five railway explosions in North America in six months, including in Lac-Mégantic, we have learned that Bakken crude oil may be more flammable than traditional oil, as reported by U.S. regulators. It is being reported that some chemicals found in Bakken crude from North Dakota make it more flammable, corrosive and toxic. Enbridge has stated that it plans to move Bakken crude through Line 9, adding another possible threat to the integrity of the aging pipeline.

Richard Kuprewicz, an international pipeline safety expert with over forty years of experience in the energy sector says the probability of Line 9 rupturing is "over 90 per cent."

Among the commonly accepted duties of a government is the responsibility to protect its residents from harm. It is therefore necessary for you to ascertain the risks of this project, including on our personal health, rivers and lakes, our drinking water, farmland and property values. We strongly urge you to call for a full Provincial Environmental Assessment so that the possible dangers of this project can be fully understood before it is given the green light.

Signed:

Greenpeace Canada

Council of Canadians

Idle No More Toronto

Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

York University Graduate Students' Association

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation- Toronto

Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign

Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP)

OPIRG York

Toronto350.org

Council of Canadians (Toronto)

No More Silence

Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG)

Council of Canadians, Guelph Chapter

Centre for Social Justice

East/Central Toronto KAIROS

Council of Canadians, Hamilton Chapter

Ontario Coalition against Poverty

Bathurst United Church Social Justice and Community Engagement Committee

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Grand River Indigenous Solidarity

The Green Team of Toronto First Unitarian Congregation

Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape

Our Horizon

Socialist Project

Rising Tide Toronto

Guelph Anti-Pipeline Action Group

West End Against Line 9 (WEAL9)

Green Neighbours 21

All Seasons Play Group

Greg Albo, Professor, York University

Josh Matlow, Toronto City Councillor

Robert Lovelace, Professor and Indigenous Land Defender

Contact: Line9EAnow@gmail.com

Photo: Enbridge Pipeline from Kalamazoo Spill by NTSB

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