Enbridge Line 9 crosses the Grand River in North Dumfries, Ontario. The Climate Change Containment Unit on the Grand River in North Dumfries, Ontario.

The "Climate Change Containment Unit" (CCCU) is in action today at the site of an Enbridge emergency response exercise in North Dumfries where the controversial Line 9 crosses the Grand River. A\J got exclusive first access to the news.

Arriving in a flotilla of three canoes, the CCCU joined the simulated spill exercise with mock hazmat suits and oil spill clean-up equipment – and banners protesting the Line 9 reversal and the potential impacts to the Grand River.

“When Enbridge spills, rivers are killed,” says a CCCU spokesperson, “and today Enbridge is simulating the death of the Grand River.”

A story in The Record from earlier this month explains the purpose of the exercise – and where Line 9 runs through the Region of Waterloo: "across North Dumfries Township, under the Grand River and through suburban backyards in Ayr."Climate Change Containment Unit at Enbridge Line 9 site.

A National Energy Board hearing is taking place this fall on Enbridge’s proposal to reverse the flow of the pipeline and pump diluted tar sands bitumen through the 38-year-old pipeline, which has a history of 12 spills, according to the CCCU press release.

Enbridge has been responsible for over 800 spills from its pipelines between 1999 and 2010, the worst being in 2010 from Line 6B in Michigan, when 3.3 million litres of diluted bitumen ended up in the Kalamazoo River. Much of it is still in there, due to the fact that bitumen sinks, rather than floating like conventional light crude, making clean up much more difficult. The Line 9 pipeline is the same age and model as Line 6B.

“The aging pipelines, put under higher pressure and filled with [a] corrosive mixture of bitumen and chemicals, have been spilling across the continent, and Enbridge simply does not clean up their messes,” says the CCCU. “In Kalamazoo, local emergency responders had been trained by Enbridge, yet 60km of river system was still destroyed, and locals paid the costs for the clean up.”

We recently reported on Enbridge’s own predictions about spills from the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through the Great Bear rainforest in BC. A leak anywhere a few kilometres west of the Stuart River would result in a spill worse than Kalamazoo.

Enbridge reports on its website that none of the products it would be shipping through Line 9 are corrosive enough to raise concerns, and that the drag reducing agent used to help bitumen flow more easily through the pipeline is "tested and safe."

But, as their name suggests, pipeline spills are only one of the CCCU’s concerns: a press release emphasizes that they are also critical of the tar sands in general, arguing that the Line 9 reversal “is part of a network of tar sands expansion designed to increase production and the supply of oil to overseas markets.” We've heard similar arguments before, in a post from Environmental Defence campaigner Paisley Cozzarin. 

The CCCU views the tar sands as "a colonial project,” contending that tar sands extraction “is a form of ongoing, resource-based colonization, with the surrounding Indigenous communities subject to increasingly toxic environments and soaring cancer rates in return.”

Line 9 cuts through 17 Indigenous communities, “putting their health at risk without the consultation legally required by treaty agreements,” says the CCCU release.

A\J’s office is located in Kitchener, just north of where Line 9 crosses the Grand River, and on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River. The Six Nations reserve is located just downstream of Line 9. The emergency respond drill extends downstream to the City of Brantford.

This post is being actively updated as we get more news and photos. In the meantime, you can read more of our pipelines coverage at alternativesjournal.ca/pipelines.

Members of the emergency response team on the shore of the Grand River.

Laura is a past A\J managing editor. She has an MA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, is an organizing aficionado, lackadaisical gardener, and former musical theatre producer. @inhabitings

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