Crude Awakening for Line 9

Enbridge, Kingston, OntarioKingston’s City Council Meetings are no stranger to corporate suitors and special interest groups looking to gain support for noble and lucrative causes alike. The conga line of aspiring something or others that have graced council with their presence include prospective managers of the K-Rock Centre, both pro- and anti-casino coalitions, and most recently, Enbridge Inc.  These darlings of the Alberta oil tar sands project sent half a dozen representatives to the January 22nd council meeting to outline the company’s plan to reverse the flow of a 40 year old oil pipeline, which currently transports imported crude from Montreal to refineries in Sarnia.  Line 9‘s local path travels underneath sensitive environmental areas including the Rideau Canal, parcels of land safeguarded by Cataraqui Regional Conservation Authority, as well as rural Kingston.  The reason Enbridge wants to reverse the flow is as controversial as their environmental record, as the directional change would permit the corporate oil giant to transport even more dirty bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands.

Do you support the reservsal of Line 9?

  • Absolutely not. (71%, 144 Votes)
  • Yes. (22%, 44 Votes)
  • Not sure. (6%, 13 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

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Before we travel too much further down line 9, it’s important to realize that Enbridge’s visit with Kingston City Council was more of a courtesy call than them asking for permission.  Permission is ultimately granted by the National Energy Board, who has already received Enbridge’s application to reverse the flow.  So this may already be a fait accompli. Representatives from Enbridge did their darnedest to reassure Councilors that safety protocols are in place, such as thicker pipes with stronger reinforcement, downplaying any environmental concerns.  When challenged by Councillors who brought up Enbridge’s lack luster environmental record, the reps reiterated that line 9 is safe, regardless of which direction it’s flowing, or what they’re pumping through it.

Following the 2010 spill that leaked over one million gallons of bitumen into the Kalamazoo River, Enbridge is reportedly way behind on clean up efforts.  Therefore, in the event something goes terribly wrong with line 9 near Kingston, the only thing we can realistically be guaranteed is that there would be permanent environmental damage.  Conversely, even if line 9 is as safe as the company claims, what are your thoughts on it playing a part in “accelerating the catastrophic impacts of climate change“?

Thanks and photo credit to rickz.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

10 thoughts on “Crude Awakening for Line 9

  • One obvious question would be about what happens if the line flow is not reversed? Does it continue to handle crude flowing from east to west? Or are they going to shut it down and remove it? It seems all this hand-wringing about flow reversal is moot if the pipeline continues to handle crude under pressure regardless of which way the flow is going. The potential spill hazard would continue in any case.

    • I suspect the line would not be removed as that would be a rather large expense. I haven't come across anything that states the line would go unused if the reversal does not proceed, but I suppose that's a possibility. As for your comment on the potential spill hazard associated with line 9's reversal, it has been deemed greater due to the change in what's being transported. This report describes bitumen as: "hot liquid sandpaper that damages pipelines", which is the same substance that was leaked/is still being cleaned up down in Michigan.

  • I have no argument against your rather crude attack on Enbridge, but to call this a "poll" when you more or less direct the vote is a bit annoying.

    • I certainly can't deny that content surrounding the poll reflects my opinion, but the poll question itself is as fair as any other. If you support it, say so. If not, so be it.

      • Wondering how yes or no is directing the poll. I did not choose yes. However, I believe the questions are fair

    • Ironic how you worded that sentence.. ” your CRUDE attack against Enbridge”… I believe we should be responding with “Enbridges BITUMEN attack on the Michigan river..” and potentially an attack on the Cataraqui river, Ridrau Can and other water ways across Canada. You’re correct in your observation that this article is siding against the pipelines. That is sinply because it is STATING THE TRUTH. If you cant handle the truth that this pipeline is risking lifr as we know it for the sake of extra profit for the wealthy, then go back to your ignorant denail while the rest of us give a s*** about our health and safety.

  • The backgrounder to this poll is quite one-sided against the pipeline reversal and I think lacks some key points that should be made. The Enbridge line 9 pipeline currently transports Foreign oil (From the Middle East, the North Sea and Africa) from Montreal to Sarnia. The big-picture question that should be asked is: do you want SuperTankers that transport 500 thousand to 4 million barrels of oil at a time bringing oil from away, docking in the St Lawrence River and then putting the oil in the existing pipeline as is currently happening? Or, the alternative is you transport domestic oil from Alberta the opposite direction avoiding foreign supply issues, conflict oil and SuperTanker spill risk, with potentially increased risk (to the existing risk) of a pipeline breach due to increased abrasion from sandy oil (of which may or may not be the case… I am unfamiliar with this side of the issue). In all likelihood, there will be oil running through the pipeline… one direction or the other.

    As far as risk management goes, a pipeline is significantly easier to manage, and the spill more easy to contains and clean up, if there is a leak compared to a supertanker spilling its load into the St. Lawrence. For comparison, the oil spill on line 6 was about 33 thousand barrels in volume… This pales in comparison to the disaster that could happen if a tanker 15-120 times the capacity busted open in and around Canadian waters. By taking oil from the West instead of the East, you potentially eliminate the risk of a Tanker spill on Canada's East Coast and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

  • No to the Tar Sands, and no to Keystone XL in the US. Think about the spill in Michigan, and thank Enbridge for not being able to clean that up satisfactorily even more than 2 years later. ABSOLUTELY NOT. And yes, I really have done my homework, and yes I really did read the environmental impact study about this. Check out these links and avoid the Harper Government paid commentator. . and

  • This country needs more public engagement and discussion concerning how to better manage our oil wealth in general. The transporation of oil from Alberta to New Brunswick via pipeline is one recent example of public discourse that is, at the very least, getting Canadians to better investigate their potential options.

    As the situation stands, if we do not increase pipeline capacity heading east or west from Alberta, it will simply going to flow slouth into American refineries, which will generate the value added jobs and associated economic spin-offs. We have been siphoning oil wealth out of this country for generations now, and we have very little to show for it. As the Economist and other publications have recently been promoting, we need to examine the Norwegian and other national models to better organize our shared resources.


    We need to pay attention to what science and evidence say. The first and best reason to oppose the proposed flow reversal of line 9 is to help avoid catastrophic climate change. This requires looking at the evidence and understanding the issues and the immorality of unfettered tar sands development, which looks at profit in the present and ignores our shared planetary future. Unfortunately capitalism is completely blind to the global risks of climate change, and so enbridge, CNOOC, CNPC, The Koch bros. and capital’s paid lackeys like Harper want business as usual, and more of it. We need to transition to a post carbon future, and pumping bitumen (all the while running the increased risk of spills) is not the way to do that. Read Hansen’s ‘storms of my grandchildren’ or ‘the rough guide to climate change’. Be skeptical of any industry or party hack that downplays the risks of climate change and trumpets economic growth above all else. We need to create a better world, one that takes everyone’s needs into account (not just the 1% or the wealthiest among us), protects other species, and makes sure we don’t make this great planet of ours unlivable for humanity in the future..

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