(Gananoque, ON) – When the National Energy Board approved Enbridge’s Line 9 project, which will reverse the flow and increase the pressure in the almost 40-year-old pipeline, it set conditions that protect the company’s financial interests while off-loading risks and costs onto the public, according to Rick Munroe of the National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O).
“The National Energy Board ignored several major concerns – or simply chose not to address them among the 30 conditions it put on the approval,” said Munroe.
“This thin-walled steel pipeline will soon enter its fifth decade of service and it has never carried anything close to the proposed 300,000 barrels per day, even when it was new. Instead of insisting that Enbridge accept the risks of verifying pipe integrity with a short-duration water test, the Board has instead shifted the risk to the public and to our environment by testing the steel with volatile hydrocarbons at close to 900 psi.”
Also, the Board did not insist on adequate liability insurance. “If the pipe fails the public will be on the hook for clean-up costs that exceed the insured amount,” continued Munroe. “We just have to look at the ongoing costs of Enbridge’s rupture in rural Michigan to realize that the costs of a similar rupture in an urban setting could be in the billions of dollars. Yet, the NEB seems ready to protect Enbridge from these costs by offloading the costs of dealing with a spill onto municipalities and individual citizens.”
Finally, the Board did not insist on an environmental assessment. This lack is disturbing in light of the NEB’s comments on Enbridge’s failure to keep its 1975 commitment to install motorized block valves on each riverbank as required by current federal regulation.
“In other words, Enbridge was simply given a reminder that it still has not complied with what is required — and what was promised,” said Munroe. “This is less than a tap on the wrist, and a far cry from the kind of oversight and enforcement citizens expect from a regulatory authority dealing with volatile chemicals in highly populated and ecologically sensitive regions.”
“The NEB has reversed its role – instead of protecting the public, the conditions of the Line 9 approval are primarily safeguards for shareholder profits and for the externalization of costs if a catastrophic rupture should occur,” said Karen Eatwell, Acting NFU Region 3 Coordinator and NFU-O President. “It is profoundly unfair that liabilities, risks, costs and abandonment issues are left to land-owners — including farmers — and to municipalities. This is unacceptable.”
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For more information:
Rick Munroe, NFU member and intervenor on behalf of NFU-O during the Line 9 NEB hearings: Phone (613) 546-6009; email@example.com
Karen Eatwell, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Acting Regional Coordinator and NFU-O President: Phone (519) 232-4105; firstname.lastname@example.org