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NEWS: Group opposing Line 9 protests Enbridge donation to Hamilton police department

Enbridge has made a series of donations to groups along the route of the Line 9 pipeline.

Enbridge has made a series of donations to groups along the route of the Line 9 pipeline.

Hamilton 350 has filed a policy complaint against the Hamilton police services board for accepting $44,410 in donations from Enbridge Pipelines Inc. CBC reports, “The money was given in two separate installments — $34,910 for a new ATV unit and $9,500 for mapping and GPS equipment in 2010. …Protesters are fighting Enbridge’s plan to reverse the oil flow of the line 9B pipeline which runs from Montreal through Westover, in rural Hamilton. They say the flow reversal could raise the risk of a spill into places like the Beverly Swamp in the headwaters of Spencer Creek, Hamilton’s largest watershed.”

In their letter of complaint, the group said, “(The) question of principle is the public perception of favouritism on the part of the HPS on behalf of a private corporation.” Don McLean, a Hamilton 350 coordinator, says, “It’s inappropriate. This is a public police force and it should be funded by the public. If they’re of the view that municipalities need additional money, they could raise it in taxes. The appropriate way for these costs to be covered is the taxation process.” Their media release also notes, “While Hamilton’s funds went toward a GPS system and ATV’s, Belleville used their funds for a new mobile command center and the OPP splurged on night vision goggles.”

The CBC article adds, “Police spokesperson Catherine Martin declined to comment on the complaint itself, saying it is a Police Services Board issue. The police services board did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Martin said the complaint would likely go to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.”

What’s the story with Line 9?

Line 9 is a 38-year old pipeline between Montreal and Sarnia that passes through more than one hundred communities in Ontario and Quebec. According to Enbridge, the reversal of the flow of that pipeline means it could carry 300,000 barrels a day of light crude oil from the Bakken oil formation in Alberta and Saskatchewan to Montreal. That said, in November CBC reported, “In its latest document filed with the National Energy Board, the pipeline company says they would like to ship heavier crudes — like oilsands bitumen — at a later date.”

Texas-based Valero Energy Corp. plans to receive light crude from Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline in Montreal and then ship it up the St. Lawrence to its 265,000 barrel a day refinery near Quebec City. US environmental groups have also raised the concern that the reversal of the Line 9 pipeline would facilitate an export connection through Vermont and Maine by way of an existing 236-mile pipeline.

Last October, a study conducted by conservation areas in the GTA warned that a pipeline break could have a ‘significant’ effect on drinking water. The study modeled the effect of breaks where pipelines cross streams and rivers that flow into Lake Ontario near drinking water intakes. In early-May of this year, it was reported that an NEB inspection of the Line 9 pipeline found that Enbridge’s terminals at Edmonton, Sarnia and Westover (near Hamilton) and pump stations at Westover and Terrebonne (near Montreal) were missing emergency shut-down buttons. The pump stations were also missing backup power systems.

The cities of Toronto and Hamilton have expressed concern about the pipeline and the Quebec government will hold its own public consultations concurrent with the NEB hearings expected this October. In mid-May, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair rejected the Line 9 reversal because the federal environmental assessment process is unreliable. Gordon Laxer has commented he is “skeptical” about the Enbridge plan “because it’s all about exports and corporate profits, and has nothing to do with energy or environmental security for eastern Canadians.”