EMC News – On Monday, Nov. 5, Kingston residents were invited to a general meeting and discussion at Queen’s University about the potential risks of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline proposal. The proposal, which has not yet been put forth by Enbridge but is expected to come any day, proposes the current pipeline be reversed and used to ship tar sands oil. Currently, the pipeline ships conventional crude oil, but many worry that a shift to tar sands oil could be extremely dangerous for the city and the environment.
Adam Scott, the energy and climate director with Environmental Defence, a national environmental charity, was on hand to open the discussion to the public and hopefully raise awareness on this potentially hazardous issue.
“Most people aren’t aware that the pipeline exists because it is buried and has been there for a very long time. The company that runs the pipeline, Enbridge, hasn’t been very forthright about explaining the project to people, but we are really worried that a lot of folks aren’t aware of how risky this proposal actually is. We held a community event on Monday night to explain some of the issues to people,” said Scott.
The pipeline, which has been running for about 40 years now, has always been used to ship conventional crude oil. A shift to tar sands oil is very dangerous because, “it is much more likely to cause a spill in the pipeline. It is also much more dangerous when it does spill, it has a lot of toxic chemicals in it and it is much more difficult to clean up if it happens to spill into a river or a lake,” explained Scott.
At the event on Nov. 5, Scott and other members of Environmental Defence spent some time discussing with the public what could happen if the oil were to spill, using an incident in Kalamazoo as an example.
“In 2010, an almost identical pipeline, also owned by Enbridge, spilled oil into the Kalamazoo river and spilled over three million litres of oil. It was the largest inland oil spill in U.S. History and also the most expensive to clean up. It has been two years and they still haven’t finished cleaning it up. The river still hasn’t recovered. It just shows what can happen if this proposal goes through.”
The event was a great success and many people came out to find out what they could do to help. There is a petition that is circulating regarding the issue, but the most important thing to do at this point is reach out to elected municipal officials and ask questions about this issue.
“One of the biggest issues is that this project has been exempted from an environmental assessment at the federal level, so nobody is going to be looking into the serious risks of the project. So we are asking government and municipalities to get involved as much as they can, to make sure that this is a safe project,” said Scott.
So what can you do?
“People should get in contact with the municipality and ask questions. They need to be asking their elected representatives questions and getting involved in the discussion. There will definitely be more events in Kingston in the future that people should look out,” said Scott. Kingstonians can also check out the Environmental Defence website at www.environmentaldefence.ca for more information on the proposal and how to get involved.