Activists shut down construction for the entire day.

In Toronto yesterday, five people locked themselves to construction equipment being used on an Enbridge oil pipeline that crosses every river in Toronto on its way from Sarnia to Montreal.  

Enbridge is currently seeking permission from the National Energy Board to reverse the direction of flow through Line 9, to increase the maximum daily volume from 38 million litres per day to 47 million litres per day and to be allowed to ship diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the Alberta tar sands.  

Yesterday’s direct action by Rising Tide Toronto comes on the heels of strong testimony against Line 9 at NEB hearings in Toronto and Montreal last month, including a report from an International pipeline safety expert that stated there was “a high risk of rupture on Line 9 in the early years of the reversal.”

The reversal of Line 9 is opposed by communities along the pipeline route out of fear of a catastrophic rupture similar to what happened on Enbridge’s Line 6a near Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010, which released 3.3 million litres of dilbit into the environment. It was the largest inland oil spill ever in North American. After three years and over $1 billion in cleanup costs, the river is still significantly polluted and Enbridge is now arguing that further cleanup will do more harm than good — essentially admitting that tar sands oil cannot be effectively cleaned up in the case of a spill.  

Line 9 passes through every watershed in Toronto and more than 99 communities across Ontario.

Sending diluted bitumen through the heart of the Great Lakes watershed in a 37-year-old pipeline is sheer folly. It will contribute to the expansion of the tar sands which means even more toxic exposure for First Nation people downstream, increased carbon emissions and the destruction of more fresh water resources — even if there isn’t a catastrophic rupture of Line 9.   

Deer grazing where Line 9 crosses the East Don River near Leslie St and Finch Ave in Toronto — roughly the midpoint of a 25 km stretch between emergency shut-off valves.

Guelph Chapter member Paul Costello came to show support for the action.

A commons framework requires a shift in Great Lakes governance to prioritize the human right to water, public consultation and decision-making to include First Nations, Native American and other communities. Under this framework, the Council of Canadians is calling for a ban on more tar sands pipelines carrying bitumen to the Great Lakes and the refining of it by industry near the Basin.

For yesterday’s Rising Tide Toronto media release, see here.

Construction was shut down for the entire day but no arrests were made.