The bitterness of the bitumen battle.

Reading a story this morning about New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair and the upcoming battle for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the next federal election was less than enlightening. If Tommy really believes what he said to the reporter, he is, as we used to say: Dreaming in Technicolor. Tommy’s support for the Enbridge pipeline to move heated bitumen slurry under high pressure through Toronto and area will be his nemesis.

The facts of the matter are that Tommy fails to connect with Toronto. Even without his support for the pipeline, his party is in trouble in all 47 ridings that will now make up the GTA. His support for the pipeline serves to make the point that he neither understands nor cares for the GTA. And we all know that Stephen Harper turned his back on the GTA when he built his coalition from Calgary.

The battle over bitumen will be bitter. Most people do not yet know what bitumen is. Some call it Dilbit, which merely means ‘diluted bitumen.’ Pipeline people call it Heavy Crude Oil, which is a lie—bitumen can be refined into synthetic crude oil in an extremely polluting process. Bitumen is simply the residue of tar sands after the sand has been washed out. It has also been called Pitch and was used to waterproof man’s earliest seagoing galleys. It was also used as mortar in early Mesopotamia. In our modern world of innovation, there is nothing new about bitumen.

From the moment the heavy motorized shovels dig the tar sands from the soil of Alberta, the process of pollution progresses. Vast reservoirs of polluted water are now used to try to evaporate the moisture back to what nature intended.

But the pollution process does not end there. Bitumen is a witch’s brew of heavy metals, chemicals and gasses mixed in heavy carbon molecules. It has the consistency of peanut butter. To pump it through a pipeline, it has to be mixed with light crude oil or other polymers and then heated to allow it to flow. And even then, the bitumen slurry has to be pumped under higher pressure than was used for crude oil. It is a recipe for disaster.

No Eastern Canadian refineries are equipped for constant refining of bitumen. Most of them do not want the pollution it causes. The mountains of bitumen coke residue that refining bitumen creates are just another form of pollution. It is the gift that keeps on polluting.

No thanks to politicians such as Tommy Mulcair who is so willing to trade off our environment for so few jobs. Torontonians should be prepared to roast Tommy Mulcair along with Stephen Harper when that Enbridge pipeline bursts and spreads fire, death and destruction in the GTA.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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