Enbridge’s plan to replace part of a Hamilton pipeline is facing strong opposition from First Nations as well as unspecified “concerns” from the city. The company quietly filed a National Energy Board application in mid–January for its Line 11 that calls for tunneling under five streams and two provincially significant wetlands.
The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN) are challenging the project and accusing Enbridge of “fundamentally rebuilding and repurposing the [company’s] aging oil infrastructure” via multiple separate steps that should all be examined together, including flow expansions in Lines 9a, 9b and 7, replacement projects on Lines 10 and 11, and hundreds of “integrity digs”.
The Line 11 project starts at the company’s Westover tank farm and runs 3.2 km south about half way to Highway 5, parallel to Westover Road and adjacent to the pipe installed in 1971 to transport oil to Exxon Mobil’s refinery at Nanticoke. It crosses Concession 5 as well as the Sheffield–Rockton Wetland Complex that is part of the Beverly Swamp and feeds Hamilton’s largest creek (Spencer) that empties into Cootes Paradise. A pipe segment of more than half a kilometre would be drilled up to 20 metres below the wetland and tributaries of Spencer Creek.
The application filed on January 17 argues that “that any potential adverse environmental or socio–economic effects are not likely significant, and are outweighed by the benefits.” It says that “all potentially affected municipalities have been consulted [but acknowledges] there are still some outstanding concerns” – apparently a reference to Hamilton since the entire project lies within the city’s boundaries. The application offers no details of these “outstanding concerns”.
It says there are no concerns from the nearby residents or affected landowners whom Enbridge has consulted and it assures the NEB that “all potentially affected Aboriginal groups have been consulted and there are no outstanding concerns.” A written response from the Mississaugas of the New Credit filed in late January very strongly disagrees.
“MNCFN wishes to make it known to the National Energy Board, emphatically, that this statement is not correct,” begins the 14–page letter. “MNCFN has very significant concerns respecting the project itself as well as the process by which Enbridge has sought approval and review of this and related projects.”
The letter goes on to challenge last fall’s unpublicized NEB approval expansion of oil flows in Enbridge’s Line 7 pipe from Sarnia to Westover, and it argues that this and changes to Line 9, pipeline segment replacements, hundreds of ‘integrity digs’ and other recent Enbridge activity “represent a dramatic and substantial redevelopment and repurposing of its crude oil transportation infrastructure in southern Ontario.”
MNCFN was “never notified” about the Line 7 application – an accusation also leveled against Enbridge by both city of Hamilton staff, and the association representing pipeline landowners. “All of this is being done in a piecemeal fashion, depriving MNCFN and [the NEB] the opportunity to properly consider Enbridge’s work as one integrated project, and understand the implications and risks of that project.”
It points to the refusal of the company to check soil contamination at the hundreds of pipe repair locations and says “MNCFN is especially concerned with the fire and explosive risks associated with Bakken crude, and with the risks associated with spills from heavy crude and with the associated environmental and human health risks from the production, storage and transportation of petroleum coke.”
The First Nation suggests the Nanticoke ExxonMobil facility “could already be refining or planning to expand to refine heavy crude” from the company’s Alberta tar sands operations. And it points to two inactive Enbridge pipes that connect to Petro Canada’s Oakville and Mississauga storage tanks “which could be repurposed in the future to store heavy dilbit crude or volatile Bakken crude.” V