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Northwest Territories chapter expresses solidarity with Liidlii Kue First Nation on Line 21 pipeline

A Line 21 spill released an estimated 1,500 barrels of oil in May 2011.

The Council of Canadians Northwest Territories chapter has expressed its solidarity with the Liidlii Kue First Nation on the Line 21 pipeline.

The chapter has posted on Facebook, “The concerns of the Liidlii Kue First Nation about the Norman Wells pipeline were raised last fall. So why has the Government of the Northwest Territories ignored them? And why is no one talking about the moose in the room – the imminent decommissioning of the Norman Wells Oil Field and the associated HUGE environmental liabilities?”

The 50,000 barrel per day Enbridge Line 21 pipeline, also known as the Norman Wells pipeline, is 869 kilometres long and runs from Norman Wells (which is situated 150 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle) to Zama City (which is located north-west of Fort McMurray).

In this blog posted earlier this week, Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Daniel Cayley-Daoust writes, “On March 10, Enbridge filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to replace a segment of Line 21 that crosses the Mackenzie River, and the NEB is now considering whether the application is complete or if there is any information missing before a public hearing is held.”

Cayley-Daoust highlights, “Eighty percent of the Line 21 oil pipeline crosses unceded Dehcho territory, and Liidlii Kue never consented to the construction of the original pipeline in the 80’s. The Liidlii Kue First Nation has a population of about 1300 people that live both upstream and downstream from the crossing. Liidlii Kue is engaged in the public review process at the NEB and has expressed concerns that include risks to water and Indigenous sovereignty. The First Nation also decries the lack of coverage of this issue nationally.”

In November 2016, Northern News Service reported, “The Norman Wells pipeline has been temporarily shut down because of riverbank slope stability concerns near the oil pipeline’s right-of-way. Liidlii Kue First Nation Chief Jerry Antoine says the most important step is to ensure the safety of the water in the Mackenzie River. ‘Water is our priority. The pipeline is upriver from our community and the municipality here also has an intake pipe that takes water from the river’, Antoine pointed out.”

Earlier this week, NWT Premier Bob McLeod stated, “The Enbridge Line 21 pipeline, as a contributor to our economy, provides important services and opportunities for Northern residents. This is why the GNWT has made it a priority to support timely and efficient regulatory processes for projects, to ensure that the interests of all residents are recognized and protected.”

Last year, Imperial Oil announced it was considering selling its oil and gas assets in Norman Wells. As the chapter notes, the field is also likely to be decommissioned (given declining production at the site) which would be complicated given the wells are drilled from six artificial islands constructed in the Mackenzie River.

Enbridge is expected to begin work on an underwater section of the Line 21 pipeline this summer. Cayley-Daoust notes, “According to the NEB website, Enbridge expects to start construction in June and complete it by November.”