Enbridge pipeline in Ontario approved without public hearing; critic calls NEB claim "ridiculous"

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"It's not surprising, since the Board won't hold a hearing for most projects that operate under section 58," he said, referring to Section 58 of the National Energy Board Act for applications in which hearings aren't required. 

On January 17, the NEB sent out a letter to companies, notifying them that they can request the Board to do a "traditional territory analysis" on their behalf, "based on publicly available information". Goudy wondered why an independent regulatory authority like the NEB was committing resources to cover procedures that pipeline companies should be doing themselves.

 


"The January 17 letter seems, to me, to be another example of the Board facilitating non-hearing applications by companies – in effect doing the work of the company, rather than acting as an impartial decision-maker," he said. 

Flow increase and abandonment

Enbridge spokesperson Graham White told the Toronto Star that the Line 7 project will only require minimal construction, since capacity will be increased by introducing a "drag-reducing agent" -- a hydrocarbon polymer chemical that reduces friction and increases flow of the oil. The chemical is also being proposed for the Line 9 expansion. 

Landowners are worried not only because of the age of the pipeline -- 57 years -- but because of greater damage in the event of a leak. 

"The agent increases the flow rates, so if there were to be a rupture or leak, more product will come out of the line in a shorter time period," said Goudy. In the 2010 spill in Michigan, Enbridge's ruptured line 6B managed to spill
20,000 barrels over 17 hours, making it the largest on-land spill in U.S. history. 

Because the vast majority of OPLA members are farmers, they are worried not only about spills, but also what will happen when the pipelines eventually go out of use. When asked by the NEB to submit a report on how much it would spend to remove oil pipelines from the land, Enbridge gave a report that said it would leave around 80 per cent of pipelines on farmland "in place" (i.e. in the ground) due to high removal cost. 

Consultation with municipalities

As the pipeline expansion goes underway, municipalities such as Hamilton are getting up to speed on what the project will entail. One city official was confounded why his city was never notified or included in the discussions around the pipeline expansion. 

“In our view, if it is in our municipal jurisdiction, (Enbridge) should consult with the city of Hamilton,” Guy Paparella, Hamilton’s director of growth planning, told the Toronto Star. “Even if we don’t have anything to say, we should have an opportunity at least to review what’s happening, to understand what changes there may be.”

Enbridge said Hamilton wasn’t included in outreach because the city isn’t affected “in any way” by the project. Enbridge said it did notify other municipalities, such as Sarnia.

CORRECTION: an earlier version of this story identified Goudy as a member of OPLA. He is not a member of this association. 

 

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