Has Enbridge every lied to you before?

There is no stopping the pipeline people from Enbridge. The Enbridge motto should be “What TransCanada can’t do, Enbridge can do!” With President Obama making the noises that he will kill the Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge has made its end run to loop its existing pipelines back to connect its Alberta feed through Illinois back to the Texas Gulf oil ports. It is all in aid of getting bitumen to the sea.

This move has been obvious for a long time and Enbridge seems to have been hoping that making its move in the heat of the summer would go unnoticed by environmentalists and other alarmists. And there is no international portion to this application, keeping it out of reach of Obama and his environmentalist friends. This application is to run a pipeline from Flanagan, Illinois almost 1000 kilometres through mid-America to the existing pipeline terminal at Cushing, Oklahoma. From Cushing there is lots of capacity to pipe bitumen to the sea ports to ship to offshore buyers.

And Enbridge has asked for an expedited permit. These people waste little time. They hardly want people along the pipeline route hearing about the ongoing expenses along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan where 42 kilometres of the river and its tributaries have been polluted with bitumen. How many hundreds of millions more it will cost to complete the clean-up is anyone’s guess.

What is really frightening about this application is that the company has been doing splashy public relations presentations to people along the pipeline route. These presentations are long on hype and very limited on facts. An Associated Press report on one of these meetings quotes an Enbridge spokeswoman as saying that routine arial patrols along the 1000-kilometre route are backed by around-the-clock computer monitoring in Calgary. The fact that the Calgary office can shut down the pipeline does not mean it necessarily will shut it down.

In Michigan, it was not until the spill was confirmed on the ground that Calgary got around to shutting down the bitumen pipeline. In Mayflower, Arkansa streets and lawns were flooded with bitumen before the shut down of that spill from Exxon Mobil. The point is not that there can be a spill but when the spill will happen.

A recent study by the National Academy of Science in the United States says that there is no more likelihood of a spill of bitumen than of oil. The only problem is that when there is a spill of bitumen, there is a very different and very costly clean-up required.

Enbridge is a pipeline company. It will tell you of why its pipeline is strong and why its monitoring is thorough. What Enbridge cannot tell you is that there will never be a spill. When carrying bitumen slurry, you can expect a spill. And you had better watch for it!


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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