Maybe instead of seeking to build major new pipelines, it’s time for Enbridge to get existing pipelines up to snuff.
To help prevent pollution from pipeline spills, I recently mapped exactly where major oil pipelines cross some of our most populated and environmentally sensitive places. In particular, I wanted to look into where Enbridge’s big ‘Line 9’ oil pipeline crosses rivers in Southern Ontario. Enbridge wants to make some changes to the route to ship risky tar sands oil to the East coast, part of a bigger plan known as ‘Trailbreaker’.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered the pipeline goes through...wait for it... the Rouge River, the future site of Canada’s first urban national park. I decided to investigate to see what it actually looks like up close when a buried oil pipeline crosses a major river, and went out the park with a few unanswered questions. Was there anything to actually see? How do they protect the river from possible spills?
My surprise that we’d have a pipeline from this spill-prone company (the U.S. government said it behaved like “Keystone Kops” in a recent, disastrous spill in Michigan, just weeks before yet another spill
in Wisconsin) in a national park paled to my surprise at what I found.
Turns out it’s not buried. It just sticks out of the river bank. Yup, exposed right in the fast flowing river, vulnerable to any debris like a log or piece of ice coming downstream.
You can see my photos here
What better place for an exposed pipeline! A soon-to-be national park
, smack in the most densely populated part of the country. Indeed, the Park is home to a vital pocket of preserved Ontario wilderness and many threatened or endangered species. Local leaders and the community have worked tirelessly for over a decade to ensure it’s properly protected for future generations. Oh, and the Rouge River itself flows directly into Lake Ontario, a source of drinking water for millions.
Let’s remember that unlike normal oil, tar sands oil doesn’t float after it spills. It sinks, which makes cleaning it up much harder and much more expensive. That spill in Michigan cost a cool billion to clean up.
Who knows what other parts of the pipeline are also exposed? I guess I will have to walk the whole thing.
Maybe instead of seeking to build major new pipelines across pristine areas in B.C. and ship riskier tar sands oil through Ontario and Quebec, it’s time for Enbridge to get existing, ageing and exposed pipelines up to snuff.