Enbridge responds to reports of leaks

Refutes pipeline spill allegations

By Robert Frank

Enbridge Inc. says that reports that its oil pipeline 9B that runs through Laval has experienced some 35 spills elsewhere in Quebec and Ontario during its four decades of operation are misleading.

With a National Energy Board decision on Enbridge’s bid to reverse the flow in the line imminent, CTV’s investigative current affairs program W5 broadcast a report, Feb. 22, which questioned its integrity.

The following morning, the Toronto Star published a map alleging that 5,000 litres of oil spilled in two incidents in Mirabel, and another 4,000 litres in Terrebonne, just north of Laval. The newspaper also referred to a third, much larger incident in East End Montreal, where more than 3 million litres allegedly leaked.

According to Enbridge’s Graham White, the North Shore spills all happened at well-protected pumping stations, not on the buried pipeline itself.

“In May 2011, the Terrebonne facility completely contained a tank spill of 4,000 litres,” the pipeline operator’s Calgary-based spokesman told The Suburban in a telephone interview. “The site is equipped with an impermeable liner. No oil passed through it. Some 3,000 litres was returned to the pipe and 1,000 litres removed by a vacuum truck licensed for safe disposal, and the gravel removed was replaced—so the off-site impact on the environment was zero. This was reported to the National Energy Board and the Quebec Environment Ministry.

We later discussed the incident with Terrebonne officials,” White added, “and have promised to ensure better communication, even regarding on-site facility incidents that do not affect the community or the environment.”

He said that the Mirabel reference likely alludes to another facility incident that occurred in 1993.

“Again, it was not part of the mainline,” he said. “That was the result of external corrosion on a return pipe at the facility.”

White figures that the 3 million litre leak that the Toronto Star alleged might refer to “the third party impact we had on the pipe shortly after it was installed [in 1978].”

“This incident was not caused by Enbridge activities and the site was cleaned up and remediated,” he said.

Last week, a CROP poll revealed that a majority of Quebecers support oil development in the province. It said that six out of ten Quebecers support pipelines as the best way to transport oil.

The Quebec government held hearings last year into the safety and soundness of Enbridge’s pipeline project and decided to offer qualified support to the project.

The National Energy Board is expected to issue its own ruling on Enbridge’s bid in coming weeks.

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