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Activists close Line 9 near Sarnia

Photo Credit Ricochet Media Nicky Young

Activists closed a valve on Enbridge’s Line 9 oil pipeline just west of Sarnia today stopping oil transport on the controversial pipeline for several hours before they were arrested and removed.

According to a press release, the activists closed the valve at 7:30 this morning and then locked themselves to it with bicycle locks.  

From the press release: “Line 9 is a highly contested tar sands pipeline that began shipping crude earlier this month between Sarnia and Montreal. Those involved assert that the operation of line 9 is a violation of indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights. “It’s clear that tar sands projects represent an ongoing cultural and environmental genocide.” Vanessa Gray asserts. “I defend the land and water because it is sacred. I have the right to defend against anything that threatens my traditions and culture.”

Vanessa Gray was a guest speaker at our annual general meeting in Windsor in October. 

The press release continues:  “The tarsands are known to be the second leading cause of deforestation in the world and permanently contaminate over 7 million barrels of water every day. Locally Aamjiwnaang first nation experiences skewed sex ratios and high rates of respiratory illness because of nearby petrochemical refineries.”

Line 9 passes through 99 towns and cities and 14 Indigenous communities in Ontario and Quebec. 

A pipeline safety expert with over forty years of experience in the energy sector, Richard Kuprewicz, has stated that the probability of Line 9 rupturing is over 90% in the first five years of operation. This is due to the large number of fractures in the aging pipeline and the fact that Line 9 will carry various different kinds of crude- including diluted bitumen- which adds additional stresses to the pipeline.

The Council of Canadians has grave concerns about the likelihood of Line 9 rupturing and the consequences of a diluted bitumen spill in the heart of the Great Lakes region. In July 2010, Enbridge’s Line 6 in Michigan ruptured, spilling millions of litres of diluted bitumen from the tar sands into the Kalamazoo River system.  After five years and more than $1.5 billion dollars in cleanup costs, the river is still significantly polluted and Enbridge argues that further cleanup will do more harm than good- essentially admitting that tar sands oil cannot be effectively cleaned up in the case of a spill.  

The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation plan to appeal the National Energy Board’s approval of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline at the Supreme Court due to the lack of free, prior and informed consent to the pipeline reversal.  

Council of Canadians chapters in London, Hamilton, Guelph, Peel, Toronto, Peterborough and Northumberland have also taken direct action against the reversal of Line 9.

Two weeks ago, activists in Quebec shut down Line 9 for an entire day.

The three people arrested were charged several counts including Mischief over $5000 (max sentence 10 years in prison) and Mischief endangering life which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. This is the first time I have heard of anyone being charged with Mischief endangering life and it strikes me as a heavy handed attempt to intimidate anyone who is considering taking similar actions.    

Click here for a report on other evidence presented to the NEB against the Line 9 proposal