OHSWEKEN – Approximately 50 people gathered at the GREAT Theatre to hear information about Enbridge’s Line 9, which runs through Six Nations territory.
Line 9 begins in Aamjiwnaang First Nation, otherwise known as Sarnia, and ends in Montreal. In June, Enbridge plans for Line 9B to begin pumping toxic diluted bitumen through the pipeline all the way to Montreal.
A Line 9 pipeline spill would affect over nine million people along the pipeline, possibly polluting over 100 communities, from small towns to large urban centres like Toronto. Presenters at the event said that 18 of those communities are indigenous territories and 11 of these First Nations communities were ignored with no prior, informed consent of the toxic materials that will flow across their lands.
Speakers at the event shared that according to Enbridge’s own inspection tools there are 12,961 findings of cracks, dents, or corrosion damages along the pipeline. There have been obvious warning signs and red flags. Like the current record of 35 pipeline ruptures over 40 years of Line 9’s existence, or Enbridge’s pipeline 6B spill in July of 2010.
Line 6B, which is almost identical to Line 9 in age, construction, and operation, burst and contaminated the Talmadge River in Minnesota. Diluted bitumen from the tar sands flowed from a six foot break in the pipeline in what was recorded as the biggest inland oil spill in US history.
Bitumen rolled down the Talmadge and into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Presenters at this week’s event confirmed that even today, five years later, Enbridge’s clean up from that spill is not yet complete and there have been no public reports or government efforts to inform the people of the ongoing environmental and health effects of the spill.
There has been vocal community resistance all along Line 9, such as an occupation of sites that cross the Grand River, one action even leading to six arrests in Westover. Still, Line 9 and many other pipelines continue to operate daily and are in the process of being built.
Considering the track record of these pipelines, protesters have a strong argument. A ‘pipeline for the economy now, worry about the consequences later’ mentality leaves water, food and land security at high risk. Why spend money protecting the water or land?
Presenters also shared that there is also no Canadian government agency or department that is responsible for cleaning up environmental disasters. And there is little is known about the process of oil spill clean-up. This means that there is likely no action plan in place to protect the Grand River from an environmental disaster much like the Talmadge River.