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Pipeline Would Carry Fracked Oil and Bitumen Through Toronto

The Toronto Star reports, “The crude oil on the train (that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic killing 47 people) came from North Dakota, where it was pulled from the shale of the Bakken formation, which stretches from western North Dakota into southern Saskatchewan and eastern Montana. It’s the same oil Enbridge plans to pump through Line 9, a pipeline that cuts through the GTA if federal regulators approve plans to reverse the flow in the 38-year-old pipeline…”

“Line 9 would also carry diluted bitumen — heavy, tar-like crude from Alberta’s oil sands, diluted with chemicals so it can flow through a pipe — though the majority of product would be light crude from the Bakken, according to Enbridge. Industry reports have noted the corrosive effects of Bakken oil on drilling and refinery infrastructure, but there are no special rules for its handling, nor have its effects on pipelines been probed by federal regulators on either side of the border.”

“Most of the oil produced in North Dakota is extracted using hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ a controversial process of blasting apart underground rock formations with a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to get at oil and gas trapped within. Producers use a toxic soup of chemicals, such as hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive component that critics fear could eat away at pipelines and tank cars if not fully removed from the oil. And Bakken crude can contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic, corrosive chemical that’s extremely flammable.”

“Chemical engineer Gregory Patience, who studies explosions in petroleum and fossil fuels, looked up a safety data sheet published by Cenovus on its Bakken product. The oil’s flammability classification is the highest there is, level 4 — the same as methane gas and propane, which are also frequently moved by pipeline. In the case of a spill, the Bakken oil could ignite, with a spark, at 20C. To ignite in the absence of a spark would require temperatures of 250C, Patience said. ‘Is it more dangerous, is there a hazard? Yes, there’s a hazard; yes, there’s a risk’, said Patience.”

“That’s the problem with Line 9, according to pipeline consultant Richard Kuprewicz. He argues that Line 9 is at high risk of rupture due to ‘insidious’ cracks.”

Council of Canadians chapters oppose Line 9.

In June 2013, there was a day of action in support of the occupation of a Line 9 pumping station in Hamilton. Council of Canadians chapters in London, Hamilton, Peterborough, Vancouver and other cities took part in this day of action. The Winnipeg chapter helped to spread the word about it. The Guelph, Brant and Hamilton chapters had all visited and lent their support to the occupation.

And in October, Council of Canadians membership at our annual general meeting in Saskatoon voted in support of a resolution that states, “Therefore be it resolved that the Council of Canadians firmly opposes Enbridge’s proposal to reverse the flow of Line 9 pipeline and send diluted bitumen through it.” The resolution was submitted by eleven chapters in Ontario and Quebec and the eight speakers in favour of the motion included members from Ontario, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland.