Canadian energy giant Enbridge says it will permanently cover a section of oil pipeline that has been exposed on a bank of the Rouge River in Scarborough for more than two years.
The company’s promise to start work at the site within two weeks came days after Environmental Defence, a non-profit group, warned a spill from the pipeline could “permanently damage” a future Rouge National Urban Park.
Adam Scott, a spokesperson for the group, said he was checking the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline, which carries oil from Montreal to Sarnia, Ontario. “I just happened to find the pipe sitting in the river, completely exposed,” he said.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority which owns most land in Rouge Park, became aware in late 2009 erosion had exposed the line on the west bank of the Rouge east of Staines Road.
It allowed Enbridge to place a “concrete blanket” around the pipe, but it has taken this long to get agreement from the company, the Authority and management of Rouge Park on a permanent solution, said Renee Afoom, speaking for the TRCA on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
“They’re rebuilding the whole slope (of the western bank) so the exposed part will be buried,” said Afoom, adding the Authority’s executive board may approve a permit for the work this Friday. Todd Nogier, an Enbridge spokesperson, said the TRCA had accepted its plan for a permanent cover to be planted with shrubs “with the intent of blending into the surroundings,” and it may be completed in two months.
“Some diverting” of the river channel around the site will be necessary during the construction, he said.
Enbridge has been fined for U.S. spills, including one from a pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010, and Scott said people should be concerned about the safety of the 37-year-old Line 9 even after the work is finished.
Environmental Defence said the company is seeking to reverse the flow of Line 9 and use it to transport “more corrosive” bitumen oil from Alberta’s tar sands, leading to “greater risk” of a spill. “This oil is like hot liquid sandpaper that damages pipelines,” the environmental group said in a statement on the pipeline plan.
Nogier, however, said third-party studies “have found no evidence bitumen presents a more corrosive product” and much of what flows through Line 9 would be a lighter crude.
A pipeline operated by another company has run safely through Jasper National Park for decades, he added.
Ontario is expected to sign an agreement transferring provincial land in the present Rouge Park to the federal government this fall. Federal officials have said creating the new Rouge Park – the first in a new class of national parks – would not affect maintenance or expansion of infrastructure, such as pipelines, running through it.
This article is for personal use only courtesy of Scarborough Mirror a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.