From City Hall: City Action on Pipeline Safety (UPDATED)

UPDATE (April 2014)

As Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline is running through Ward 23’s hydro corridor, the recent decision of the National Energy Board to allow the line to carry diluted bitumen has raised significant concern in the area.  While it’s important to understand that jurisdiction overseeing pipelines belongs to the federally appointed NEB and not the City of Toronto, Council continues to monitor the situation closely and recently addressed some of residents’ safety concerns.

Actions include asking the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to order an environmental assessment of Enbridge’s proposal to increase the pipeline’s capacity and reverse the flow of oil from westward to eastward. Another action by Council addresses the matter of ensuring the financial ability of pipeline operators such as Enbridge to cover the costs of any damage caused by their pipeline operations.  I will continue to update residents on this matter.

ORIGINAL POST (March 2013)

As you may be aware, an Enbridge pipeline (Line 9) runs through the hydro corridor just north of Finch Ave. The pipeline now carries “light” imported oil westward from eastern Canada. Enbridge has filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to reverse the pipeline flow in order to carry product  from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the east.  This approval has already been granted as far as east as Hamilton. The next stage of approval, which would extend the flow to Montreal, must be approved by the NEB, which has the responsibility to  examine in detail the integrity and safety of the entire Line 9 pipeline proposal.

Some concerns have been raised, particularly from environmental groups but also from individual residents, about the change in product. The oil sands produce diluted bitumin (DilBit), which may create a greater environmental risk if there is a spill, such as happened with an Enbridge line carrying DilBit in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in July 2010.

Enbridge has promised to spend $50 million to improve their equipment and emergency response capabilities.

The City of Toronto has raised safety concerns, and Council last week authorized the City Solicitor to apply to the NEB to participate in proceedings and raise issues relevant to Toronto.  My motion that the staff provide an update to Council in July passed unanimously.   I will continue to monitor this closely.

If you are concerned about this proposal, individuals can make submissions to the NEB for consideration during the hearing.  More information on submitting a letter to the NEB can be found on their website.