Final Oral Argument delivered to National Energy Board on Enbridge Line 9


Final argument Sustainable Trent 

Transcript Hearing Order OH-002-2013


MR. TENNENT-RIDDELL: Good morning, Madam Chair and Board Members. Thank you to the National Energy Board for the opportunity to speak here today and to everyone for listening.

My name is Julian Tennent-Riddell and I’m here to present final oral argument on behalf of Sustainable Trent. We are, as far as I know, the only student organization and the only Peterborough-based organization present at these hearings. I will address the significance of this later in this final argument.

Sustainable Trent is a levy group at Trent University, meaning we are accountable to all full-time undergraduate students at Trent. I would like to use this opportunity to demonstrate why the Line 9B reversal and Line 9 capacity expansion project, which I will refer to in this argument as Line 9B, goes against the Canadian public interest and why we think the Board should deny approval for the project.

I would like to address a few key issues today, these being number one, the likelihood of oil spills should Line 9B be approved, and the resulting risk of negative human health and environmental affects; number two, the particular danger involved with transporting tar sand diluted bitumen through pipelines.

Number three, Line 9’s violation of Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the impacts that approval of Line 9B would have on these rights; number four, and this will be fairly brief, the risks which Line 9B poses to Peterborough and surrounding area and to Trent students, and finally number five, the impacts Line 9B would have on our future as young people and as students.

I will take this moment just to say that when I reference Sustainable Trent’s written evidence in this argument I will refer to the Exhibit Number, which is C26-2-1, and a number of the specific article or document being referenced. This is due to the fact that we filed evidence in one document with the numbered list of evidence, which includes electronic links to each article or report.

I did not request that these be shown on the screen, as we didn’t think it would be necessary, but just let me know if you want anything more specific or more time to look through.


So beginning with the likelihood of an oil spill, Line 9 is an old pipeline which is past its expiry date. Many other intervenors have addressed this already. This pipeline is not fit to transport light crude oil at its current capacity let alone larger amounts of a much heavier type of oil, heavy crude, which would require higher temperatures and higher pressure along with more toxic ingredients.

Enbridge emphasizes in its final argument, that, I quote, “no new pipe would be installed” as part of this project. This fact is used to argue that Line 9B is a safe low-impact project.

Of course Line 9B is not about building a new pipeline it is about using an old pipeline to transport a whole different type of oil at higher capacity and in a different direction, succinctly phrased in Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation final argument yesterday as a fundamental commercial repurposing.

This is a high-impact high-risk project. The construction involved in the implementation of Line 9B is not what would cause devastating impacts what could spark a major disaster is the high risk of tar sands oil spills that would threaten the land, water, air, wildlife, and people along and around Line 9.

The risk of a major environmental and human disaster is too great to allow Line 9B to go forward. We have seen countless oil disasters across Canada and the U.S. which constitute major warning signs and demonstrate that the probability of a major oil spill from Line 9 is high. Many of such oil spills have occurred under Enbridge’s watch. Here I would like to quote a report called “Out on the Tar Sands Mainline Mapping Enbridge’s Web of Pipelines – A Corporate Profile Pipeline Company Enbridge”. This is from Sustainable Trent’s written evidence Exhibit C26-2-1, and it’s Document Number 11. And I quote:

“According to Enbridge’s own data, between 1999 and 2010, across all of the company’s operations there were 804 spills that released 161,475 barrels (approximately 18.95 million litres, or 5 million gallons) of hydrocarbons into the environment.” 

And I believe Grand River Solidarity already mentioned some of that — some of those facts today.

In light of this track record, it is very difficult to trust Enbridge when it claims that Line 9B is — and I quote from Enbridge’s final argument — “a project that would redeploy an existing pipeline in a safe, efficient and economical way”. End quote.

Oil spills, large and small, do not fit that description whatsoever, therefore, I submit to the Board, on behalf of Sustainable Trent, that it strongly consider Enbridge’s history of pipeline accidents, despite regulations which were in place, in its assessment of Line 9B.

Line 9 has its own history of accidents. According to Enbridge’s pipeline integrity engineering assessment — this is Exhibit C26-2-1, Document Number 12, page 16 — I quote:

“The Mainline segment of Line 9 from ML to NW has experienced a total of 12 Mainline leaks and one Mainline rupture since initial construction”. 

End quote.

And we ask how can we be sure that this unnerving pattern will not repeat itself? How can we justify allowing Enbridge to push this pipeline beyond its limits? And I urge the Board to honestly consider these questions while considering the Line 9B proposal.

It is important to look also at the type of oil spills which could result from Line 9B. The July 2010 Enbridge 6B pipeline rupture provides a particularly disturbing example, which has been referenced by many other intervenors. So I won’t go into much detail about it, including in the City of Toronto’s final argument.

This pipeline is often referred to as the sister pipeline to Line 9 because of the similarities between the two. Perhaps what is most disturbing about this rupture is that it appears that Enbridge’s response to the spill actually exacerbated the problem.

This quote is from a report by the National Transportation Safety Board called “Enbridge Incorporated Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Rupture and Release”, Marshall, Michigan, July 25th, 2010. And again that’s from Sustainable

Trent’s written evidence, Document Number 16, and found in the abstract of the article and I quote:

“The rupture occurred during the last stages of a planned shutdown and was not discovered or addressed for over 17 hours. During the time lapse, Enbridge twice pumped additional oil (81 percent of the total release) into Line[9 — sorry, Line] 6B –” 

4836. Apologies

“— during two startups.” 

End quote.

Enbridge employees were not aware that their decision to pump additional oil through the pipe in an attempt to keep the oil flowing was turning a small leak into a massive oil spill and rupture.

I think we can all agree that Enbridge did not want a major spill to happen. This shows that transporting diluted bitumen through pipelines is accident prone and that it is difficult to determine what is happening inside such underground pipelines.

The results of oil spills, such as that which occurred in Marshall, are devastating from an environmental, social, public health and economic perspective. This accident has resulted in continuing costs exceeding $767 million in clean-up costs. I imagine that everyone in this room could think of many better ways to spend $767 million.

The clean-up of the Kalamazoo River is continuing today, more than three years later. In terms of health effects, the same report I referenced above states that about 200 people reported symptoms consistent with crude oil exposure. Sustainable Trent’s written evidence goes into much more detail about these health effects.

This is where I would like to discuss my second point, on the particular dangers involved in transporting tar sands, diluted bitumen, through pipelines. Clean-up from diluted bitumen spills takes considerably longer than conventional oil spills due to the fact that diluted bitumen sinks within a short period of time when it enters the waterway.

In Sustainable Trent’s written evidence, Document Number 8, cites a report which proves this. And I believe that document — or that report was referenced earlier today.

Despite gaps in the research on the effects of diluted bitumen, the extensive clean-up process of the Kalamazoo speaks volumes about how difficult it is to adequately clean up.

The final arguments of the Algonquin to Adirondack’s Collaborative, highlights many of the dangers associated with transporting diluted bitumen and I believe the Board should take these concerns into account.

There are a few more concerning facts I would like to bring up related to the transport of diluted bitumen found in Sustainable Trent’s written evidence from a blog post by Anthony Smith of the Natural Resources Defence Council called “Tar Sands Pipeline Risks: Examining the Facts”. And that is from Exhibit C26-2-1, number 27 of the document.

The first fact is that pipelines in the U.S. with the longest history moving tar sands diluted bitumen also have the worst spill record.

When assessing whether Line 9 should be allowed to carry diluted bitumen, it is important to look to examples from pipelines which already carry it or have been carrying it for longer periods of time.

Second, and I quote:

“High temperature tar sands pipelines are at greater risk of leaks.” 

End quote.

And the article explains that this happens because of external corrosion. Line 9 would need to operate at higher temperatures to allow for dilbit, diluted bitumen, to flow through it.

And finally, two final facts; leak detection systems miss 19 out of 20 spills. This is a particularly alarming fact. And the final one is that conventional spill response methods have proven ineffective for tar sands diluted bitumen spills.

Along with the fact that Line 9 is an old pipeline and its integrity is in question, I urge the Board to strongly consider this evidence in their assessments of Enbridge’s Line 9B proposal, and I submit that Line 9 be deemed unsafe to transport diluted bitumen, synthetic bitumen or other derivatives of heavy crude on behalf of Sustainable Trent.

We include the Lac Mégantic crude oil explosion in our written evidence as another warning sign of what could happen if Line 9B was approved. Oil and pipeline companies and their Proponents have been using the disaster to claim that pipelines are safer than railways for transporting diluted bitumen.

Sustainable Trent’s evidence and the evidence of others before the Board clearly shows pipelines are not safe for transporting this type of oil and especially outdated pipelines operated with track records such as that of Enbridge.

Lac Mégantic went beyond negative health effects such as nausea and headaches. It resulted in deaths. Whether by rail or by pipeline, the shipment of tar sands heavy crude, particularly through Line 9 we argue, is not in the public interest.

Sustainable Trent urges the National Energy Board to take an approach to its decision on Line 9B based on the precautionary principle. Although research is lacking into connections between tar sands oil spills and detrimental effects on human health, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that people are suffering both short-term and long-term health effects from diluted bitumen oil spills. Some of this evidence from the situation at the Kalamazoo River is found in Sustainable Trent’s written evidence.

Degrading effects on the natural environment, waterways, land, air and wildlife, as a result of tar sands oil spills, are well known and well documented. Human health effects are more difficult to prove since they are influenced by many factors and manifest themselves over long periods of time, and we acknowledge this. But we argue that without scientific proof that when spilled diluted bitumen does not affect human health, Line 9B should not be approved, given the high likelihood of a spill on Line 9. To allow such a risk — detrimental risk to public health is, we argue, not in the public interest.

And here I would like to reference Dr. Nicole Goodman’s request that the NEB require an environmental assessment — a robust environmental assessment of Line 9B.

And Sustainable Trent remains opposed to the project so we are not suggesting this as a condition for approval but rather a requirement.

Now, I would like to turn to my point about Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the National Energy Board’s duty to ensure that meaningful consultation and accommodation have occurred between the Crown and First Nations before approval of Line 9B.

Although Sustainable Trent’s written evidence does not focus on Aboriginal and Treaty rights, the violation of these rights is the first and foremost reason we have for opposing Line 9B.

Sustainable Trent aims to stand in solidarity with First Nations and indigenous peoples who have not been properly consulted and who are saying that Line 9B and Line 9 itself violates their Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

As stated in Aamjiwnaang First Nation’s written statement of evidence, which is Exhibit C1-6-1.7, I quote:

“Line 9 was built without consulting us […] construction and operation of Line 9 constitutes an ongoing infringement of our Aboriginal and treaty rights.” 

End quote.

Given the fact that Line 9, in its current state, is already in violation of Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution of 1982, which is the highest and supreme level of Canadian law, approval of Line 9B appears irresponsible. Aboriginal rights should be honoured before any discussion of approving Line 9B takes place. Line 9B would exacerbate infringements on these rights.

And as you can tell, many of these ideas and arguments here are coming from the arguments of Aamjiwnaang First Nation and Chippewa’s of the Thames First Nation, and here Sustainable Trent would like to adopt and fully endorse the final arguments of AFN and COTTFN, and we submit that the Board give extra weight to their evidence and arguments.

Sustainable Trent fully supports their assertion that approval of Line 9B by the National Energy Board would be an error of law, given that the Crown has not fulfilled its duty to consult and accommodate First Nations, whose territories are located on and around Line 9. Aboriginal and Treaty rights must be respected before any approval of Line 9 can be contemplated.

I submit that this issue is outside the scope of the National Energy Board’s authority. It is bigger than the Board, it’s bigger than Enbridge, and it is also not in — clearly, not in the interests of Aboriginal peoples, nor is it in the interest — the public interest of Canadians, given that an ongoing relationship of Treaty violations is not good for either side or either group, and this is the view of Sustainable Trent.

And now, in terms of the particular effects that an oil spill or rupture could have on Peterborough, Trent University, and the surrounding area, Sustainable Trent’s evidence does not address this directly. We are — although, we did bring this up in our application to participate. We are located within 50 kilometres of Line 9 and our waterways and air could be adversely affected.

Much of the air pollution from Toronto travels to Peterborough and because Peterborough is located in the valley, it settles more so than it would in other areas. And an oil spill on Line 9 would bring much worse toxins than car exhaust. Peterborough is an area of farmland, rivers, and lakes, and I would also like to acknowledge that it is the territory of the Mississauga Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee.

I would now like to address the final point, which is the potential impact of Line 9B on youth and students. Sustainable Trent is a volunteer-run student organization. The majority of our members and of Trent students are young people. The core members, included in — as represented by Sustainable Trent in our application, include undergraduate students, master students, and PhD students. Trent students study in Peterborough, but many of their hometowns and families are located even more directly on Line 9 than Peterborough, including my own.

It is extremely important for youth to have a voice at these hearings because it is our future that is at stake here. It is our future that is being debated. Enbridge and Proponents of Line 9B seek to prove that this project will benefit us through economic growth.

However, Line 9B puts our future well-being at risk. We will inherit and are already inheriting the world left behind by Enbridge’s legacy; oil spills, environmental destruction, pollution of waterways, ongoing violations of Aboriginal rights, negative effects on human health. We cannot afford for these to be a part of our present and future reality.

There are plenty of alternatives to an economy based on extracting resources from indigenous territories without consent and shipping them across the country and the world through whatever means possible. We need to put our energy, times and — time and resources into those alternatives, not to projects such as Line 9B.

I urge the Board to consider the voices of students and youth represented here through Sustainable Trent who are opposing Line 9B, and also those who are unable to be represented here today.

Here, I want to make a reference to a letter of comment submitted to the Board from a group of youth in Peterborough called “Youth 4 Global Change”. This is found in Filing Number A53303. I know these youth personally, I have worked with them, and I’ve seen them devote many hours of their time to becoming aware of Line 9B and the issues surrounding it, and further educating their community on why we should be concerned about this pipeline project.

As they state so well in their letter, I quote:

“Line 9 runs through 18 different Indigenous communities and they have not given free, prior and informed consent. If this reversal takes place it is in violation of their rights and we do not think the NEB should privilege corporate rights over human rights.” 

Sustainable Trent supports and adopts this letter of comment as part of our final argument.

I can attest, as Youth 4 Global Change does so eloquently, that Line 9B is not in the interest of these youth and their future. They know this themselves and they know why, as is clear from their letter. I urge the National Energy Board to strongly consider this youth group’s letter of comment. Youth voices have been marginalized in this process, and it takes a lot of courage as a teenager to dedicate time to trying to make the world a better place.

Now, I would just like to note that this final section of my — of Sustainable Trent’s argument here is kind of related to moral issues, you might call it, rather than legal, or policy or evidentiary issues. However, I believe that this type of discussion and this type of testimony is very important, especially given that the NEB has a mandate to act in the Canadian public interest, as many have brought up at these hearings so far.

This encompasses issues around values and morality. Obviously people have different perspectives on what the Canadian public interest is, but I think it’s important to address.

And just to close, I would like to just comment on one thing, which is the many, many different groups here have presented very well thought out and excellent conditions for approval of Line 9B and Sustainable Trent respects these. They’re all very — very useful and very important.

For example, the City of Toronto, the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative, these conditions are very important. But we are hesitant to sort of full out endorse them just because we remain opposed to the project itself. So we do not want endorse conditions for approval because that would suggest we would endorse approval itself.

And finally, just a note on the process itself, of the NEB; I think it’s important to recognize that the process has a large impact on the outcome and that this particular hearing was very difficult to access for many people, especially those without the privilege of having the time and the resources and the knowledge to be here. I mean it was difficult for our student organization to pull this together, all on unpaid volunteer time.

And you know, we’ve spoken with many residents in Peterborough who are very concerned and Trent students who are very concerned about Line 9B, and they wished they could be here to comment. But of course they’re not able to because they — for whatever reason they could not submit an application. So I just — I urge the Board to consider some of these factors in their assessment of Line 9B.

And I now wish to close by, again, thanking you for your time and for listening to the final arguments of Sustainable Trent. And I do not make these statements lightly and do so in the spirit of a more just, healthy and sustainable future.

So thank you very much. If you have any questions, let me know.

— (Applause/Applaudissements)

THE CHAIRPERSON: We have no question but I want to take a minute to thank you on behalf of the Panel. We appreciate hearing from the youth and especially when you have youth taking time to — investing time in getting involved in our process.

So we thank you very much.



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