Climate defenders in Canada have stopped work on a section of Enbridge's controversial 'Line 9' pipeline in Burlington, Ontario Tuesday morning, as part of a rising tide of resistance against the proliferation of tar sands oil—dubbed "the dirtiest fuel in the world."
The group—which is comprised of environmentalists, local residents, and members of First Nations—arrived at the road leading to the site at 7:00 AM and began turning away Enbridge Oil employees. The protesters say that Enbridge is undergoing construction to prepare the pipe to carry tar sands bitumen across Ontario eastward through Quebec into the United States through Vermont and on to the Maine coast for export.
The work being done on the site is called an "integrity dig," where a section of pipe is unearthed to fix a crack, dent or corrosion. According to Burlington resident Brian Sutherland, Line 9 has nearly 13,000 such structural weaknesses along its length, “and yet Enbridge is only doing a few hundred integrity digs."
"Enbridge has been denying the problems with the pipe for years, and they still refuse to do the hydrostatic testing requested by the province," said Sutherland. "Are we really supposed to trust Enbridge when they tell us that this time they’ll do it right?”
In addition to drawing attention to the clear safety hazards of the pipeline, the Line 9 blockaders hope to highlight what they say is the true issue at hand: the expanded access to Alberta's tar sands oil fields.
“This is not about pipelines versus rail; it’s about the Tar Sands,” said protest spokesperson Danielle Boissineau. “It’s the dirtiest oil in the world: it’s not worth the destruction it takes to produce, it’s not worth the risk to our watersheds to transport, and we definitely can’t afford the carbon in our atmosphere when it’s burned. At every step of the process, the Tar Sands outsources the risks onto our communities and poisons waterways like the Athabasca River and the Bronte creek while companies like Enbridge get rich.”
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Boissineau said that the group has pledged to remain on site for “at least twelve hours, one hour for every thousand anomalies Enbridge has reported to exist on the line."
"This work on the line is just a band-aid," Boissineau added, "a flimsy patch over the most outrageous flaws in the Line 9 plan.”
In March, the Canadian National Energy Board approved a plan by Enbridge to reverse the flow of Line 9. Built in 1976, the pipeline was specifically designed to carry light crude oil. The reversal will allow it to now shuttle heavy, tar sands bitumen from Sarnia, Ontario to the east coast of the United States for export.
Kaz Novak with local news outlet The Hamilton Spectator recorded the below videos during the action: