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Ruptured Enbridge Pipeline a Sign of Things to Come

Section of pipeline could carry tar sands bitumen through Trailbreaker Pipeline reversal project

by Cameron Fenton

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MONTREAL - On Tuesday July 27, 2010, a section of pipeline owned by Calgary based pipeline giant Enbridge, ruptured leaking an estimated 3.1 million litres of oil into a nearby creek and threatening the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan, further downstream from the spill. Residents of nearby communities were warned to keep away from the spill, and a state of emergency has been declared for the affected region The leak appeared to come from a section of pipeline less than 80 cm wide.

According to a National Energy Board of Canada report to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in June 2005, the Great Lakes region is one of the highest concentration areas for pipeline leaks and breakages in North America. The region is also home to the Enbridge owned Lakehead system, the largest overland pipeline network on the planet.

Activists across Canada have pointed out the danger of pipelines and their susceptibility to leaks and breakages, especially given the unprecedented expansion slated to coincide with a five-fold increase in tar sands production over the next fifteen years. In fact, the section of pipeline that ruptured appears to be part of a pipeline that would feed into Enbridge's eastward delivery project, the Trailbreaker.

The Trailbreaker would use existing pipelines, reversing the flow of many, to transport tar sands bitumen from Fort McMurray to Portland Maine in order to be loaded onto tankers bound for the Gulf Coast of Texas. A segment of the Trailbreaker, from Chicago, Illinois to Sarnia, Ontario, would need to run through the location of this most recent leak, before crossing into Ontario and Quebec. 

For more information on the Trailbreaker, check out this report.

Activists and community members will be gathering in Dunham, QC this summer for a convergence resisting the Trailbreaker project find out more about the Quebec Climate Action Camp.

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Topics: Environment
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