Earlier this month, Enbridge Inc. won approval from Canada's National Energy Board to reverse flow of oil on its Line 9 pipeline between southern Ontario and Quebec. The $110-million dollar project -- which passes through some of the most populated areas of Canada such as Toronto and Montreal, as well as a number of First Nations territories -- will bring cheap Alberta tar sands crude oil to refineries in Quebec.
According to the Globe and Mail, this highly controversial project will go ahead only if Enbridge meets certain requirements. However, environmentalists, experts and citizens alike have already voiced strong opposition against the project, pointing to previous ruptures like the 2010 oil spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River (which still has yet to be remediated completely), Wisconsin and expert estimations predicting a 90 percent probability of rupture, due to the thick nature of tar sands bitumen. As we noted earlier on how the tar sands could threaten the Great Lakes:
This map from CTV also shows previous oil spills along Line 9.
Tar sands oil or dilbit (diluted bitumen) behaves differently in water than traditional crude. The chemical diluents that are mixed with the bitumen evaporate and the bitumen, which has the consistency of peanut butter, sinks to the bottom instead of floating on the surface like traditional crude oil.
Environmentalist and co-founder of Quebec's Equiterre Steven Guilbeault appeared on French-language talk show Tout le monde en parle this weekend, stressing the dangers of this 38-year-old pipeline could pose, saying that, "It is not a matter of 'if' but 'when, where and how' it will rupture."
Equiterre posted this interactive map showing exactly where Enbridge's Line 9 passes through; check it out to see if you live nearby.
Also check out this sobering video from Equiterre showing a Google Earth flyby aerial of the lands that this pipeline passes through (even though it is in French, the analogy of the tar sands to Mordor is fitting -- an oil spill at Finch subway station? Yikes).
Extremely risky business that has rightfully earned Canada the dubious honour of ranking dead last in environmental protection; more info and petitions via The Toronto Star, Environmental Defence, Stop Line 9, and Equiterre.