On Tuesday, the environmental action organization held a town hall on the risks of Enbridge's Line 9 proposal.
From their website:
Line 9 is an aging oil pipeline owned by Enbridge Inc. that runs through some of the most densely populated parts of Canada.
Right now, the 38-year-old pipeline carries conventional oil and runs across Ontario and Quebec. As part of a larger plan to export tar sands oil east through Canada and the U.S., Enbridge recently applied to reverse Line 9 and has asked for permission for the line to carry heavy crude, which could include tar sands oil. Once that tar sands oil reaches Montreal, it is expected that a second pipeline will be reversed to carry the oil south to Portland, Maine for export.
Enbridge’s Line 9 proposal carries many risks, but few rewards for communities along the pipeline’s route.
The risks of tar sands oil
Tar sands oil is more dangerous to ship through pipelines than normal oil. There is strong evidence that pipelines carrying tar sands oil spill more often than those carrying normal oil.
When tar sands oil spills, it can damage both human health and the environment. A tar sands oil spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, caused hundreds of people to permanently lose their homes and severely impacted many people’s health.
Tar sands oil has the consistency of peanut butter and needs to be diluted with condensate before being sent through a pipeline. When tar sands oil spills into water, the condensate evaporates, creating a toxic, carcinogenic cloud while most of the heavy bitumen sinks and coats the bottom of the lake or river with thick goo, making it much more difficult to clean up than a normal spill.
It’s also more expensive to clean up. The oil spill in the Kalamazoo River has cost $765 million and the clean-up is not yet complete. It’s worth noting that the pipeline that spilled in Michigan was about the same age as Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline.