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NEWS: Study says pipelines threaten Toronto-area drinking water

The Toronto Star reports, “Crude oil from western Canada could soon flow across the Greater Toronto Area toward Montreal, according to a notice filed by Enbridge Inc. with the National Energy Board. The notice comes as a study conducted by conservation areas in the GTA warns 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. The spills in the model would mean that contaminants would exceed drinking water standards at the water plant intakes, the study says. …Studies of threats to drinking water quality were ordered under the Ontario Clean Water Act, passed in 2006 following the Walkerton water disaster. …Adam Scott of Environmental Defence says that the pipeline application, along with the water report, should prompt local governments to take more notice of the issue.”

“Line 9 currently flows westward. Enbridge has received permission to reverse the flow on the portion of the line between Sarnia and a terminal near Hamilton, to bring western Canadian crude oil to Ontario. Enbridge has now notified the energy board that it will apply by year’s end to reverse the flow of Hamilton-to-Montreal portion of the line. Environmental groups who appeared at an energy board hearing last spring said Enbridge’s ultimate plan is to use the line to ship oil sands crude eastward to Montreal, and then on to the Atlantic coast. …Although the new application will include permission to ship ‘heavy crude’, that does not include oil sands crude, (Enbridge spokesman Graham) White said. Nor does the application contemplate shipping oil to the Atlantic coast, he said. …While Enbridge says it has no plans to ship oil sands crude east, some observers, including former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge, have suggested shipping oil sands crude to the Atlantic coast, instead of south to Gulf of Mexico or west to the Pacific.”

A Bloomberg news report deepens concern that if Enbridge were to receive approval to ship oil to Montreal, they may then seek to revive the ‘Trailbreaker’ project and export through an existing 236-mile underground pipeline between Montreal and Portland (across Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and passing near Sebago Lake and over the Androscoggin River). In October 2011, that news service reported, “Enbridge is in talks with Valero Energy Corp. and other refiners about reversing the flow of a pipeline to ship Canadian crude to the U.S. East Coast, said Chief Executive Officer Patrick Daniel.” Environmental groups have stated that from Portland the bitumen could be loaded onto tankers and shipped along the eastern US coast and down to the Gulf of Mexico to refineries in Texas.

Former long-time Council of Canadians Board member Gordon Laxer recently wrote in the Edmonton Journal, “As B.C. opposition to oil pipelines rises, eyes turn east. …Certain advantages have been trumpeted by the likes of Derek Burney, who was chief of staff to Brian Mulroney and sits on the board of TransCanada Pipelines, and Eddie Goldenberg, who was chief of staff to Jean Chrétien. One example: the bitumen could flow over existing rights of way and have fewer regulatory hurdles.”

The Toronto Star article is at–study-outlines-pipeline-risk-to-gta-water.