Action Website: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/
Group Website: http://hamiltonline9.wordpress.com/
Twitter: #SwampLine9 #NoLine9 #TarSands
(Hamilton, ON) Earlier today, a group of individuals concerned about Enbridge’s pipeline expansion project stopped construction at the North Westover pumping station in Flamborough. Line 9B is an existing pipeline that currently runs east to west, however Enbridge has applied to reverse the direction of the pipeline in order to ship tar sands oil from Alberta to the East Coast. The North Westover pumping station needs to undergo construction in order for the reversal to take place.
Early this morning, approximately 60 people walked onto the North Westover site, interrupting construction but allowing workers to close and lock the facility before leaving. The protesters insist that their intention is not to damage any equipment or the pipeline, but they are adamant that construction on this project must stop. They say they intend to stay until the Line 9 expansion project is cancelled.
In addition to major environmental concerns, protesters have identified that Enbridge's lack of consultation with Indigenous nations and other impacted communities has driven them to take a stand against the construction.
“Line 9 is going through our territory, and yet Enbridge hasn't consulted with us or talked to us at all," says Missy Elliot of Six Nations.
“The construction at Westover and along Line 9B is happening as if Line 9B has already been approved. It hasn’t -- in fact public hearings are scheduled for later in August,” says Sarah Allen, one of the group’s media liaisons at the pumping station protest. “What’s worse is that the admissions criteria to be part of these hearings were impossible to meet, shutting out most community voices.”
Activists point out that approximately ninety percent of all pipeline spills happen near terminals and pumping stations, which puts Hamilton at significant risk.
“These decisions have been made with a mind for profit -- not safety, sustainability or the environment. How many lives must be put at risk so that a few people can get richer?” asks spokesperson Elysia Petrone.
“What's best for the land is what's best for our people. We have to protect the land -- this isn't just a side project for us -- we have to protect our future. It's our responsibility." Elliot insists.
Line 9 was designed to carry light sweet crude but Enbridge intends to ship diluted bitumen (Dilbit) through the pipes.
“Dilbit is a product with the consistency of peanut butter mixed with sand, which is then mixed with carcinogens and other poisons, and then pumped through pipelines with added pressure,” activist Elysia Petrone clarifies. “As a result, it is absolutely more corrosive and likely to spill – especially when it’s being put through antiquated pipes not designed to carry the product.”
Line 9 is nearly 40 years old; it is the same age and construction as the pipeline that spilled diluted bitumen two years ago in Kalamazoo, MI. The old pipes are only a quarter of an inch thick, at most, whereas newer guidelines require pipes to be at least three-quarters of an inch thick.
The cleanup for the Michigan spill is still ongoing.
Activists insist that the current public hearing process that Enbridge is ignoring is already stacked. Under the new Economic Action Plan Act, the federal government recently granted themselves the authority to override National Energy Board decisions on pipeline projects. They also removed the requirement that changes to existing pipeline infrastructure be subject to environmental assessments, even if they are undergoing significant changes like those happening for the proposed Line 9.
“Our point is simple: this project is dangerous. It presents outrageous risks to our global environment, to our local ecosystems, and to our individual health. It disregards the health of Indigenous communities and restricts their input, putting their culture and very survival at risk,” Trish Mills argues. “We don’t want this pipeline, and we don’t want the expansion of the Tar Sands. We’ve decided to speak out – for ourselves and for the people who aren’t even aware of the risks yet. That’s why we’re here today, and that's why we have stopped construction.”