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Stuff the pipe: Enbridge's record

John Bell

January 11, 2012

On the day public hearings into the Northern Gateway pipeline project began, one of Enbridge’s US pipelines began to leak.

Bubbles from a natural gas pipe under the already polluted waters of the Gulf of Mexico were reported. Enbridge officials decided to keep the leaking pipe in operation without yet having inspected the nature or extent of the damage.

“We’ve determined that it is safe to continue operating and so we are doing that,” an Enbridge spokesperson told the press. They declined to explain how operating a leaking pipe could be “safe”.

Enbridge’s environmental record is atrocious. Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded 610 spills that released 132,000 barrels of hydrocarbons into farms, wetlands and waterways on the continent. In the last two years it has suffered three major leaks: in Illinois, in NWT and most famously in Michigan, where the Kalamazoo River was fouled by thousands of barrels of leaking oil.

Enbridge is the key corporate player behind the proposed pipeline, which would cross 1170km from Alberta’s tar sands to the northern BC port of Kitimat. The plan calls for a double pipeline: toxic chemicals used in the production of synthetic crude would be piped east, and that crude would flow back west where hundreds of super-tankers would each year navigate the coastal waters of BC.

The proposed route will pass over 1,000 salmon-bearing streams and rivers, through some of the most ecologically sensitive land in western Canada.

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