Just before Christmas, a few women took it upon themselves to shut down Line 9 as an act of resistance against the corporations persistence to overlook their responsibilities towards the land and people they have agreements with. The three women shut down the pipeline’s manual hand wheel and bike locked their necks to the valve. To narrow in on exactly what the protest is about, here is some quick overviews of what is going on.
- From Line 9 Shutdown – Enbridge has increased its capacity and reversed it’s flow, and is now transporting dangerous diluted bitumen (New York Times article on the dangerous of diluted Bitumen). Line 9 runs through sensitive ecosystems and important farmlands throughout Southern Ontario and Quebec, and passes within 50 km of over 9 million people, including 18 First Nations communities.
- From Chippewas of the Thames First Nation – “The court did not consider previous decisions, which establish the Crown’s duty to meaningfully consult with and accommodate us on projects that may potentially impact those rights, such as Line 9,”
- Myeengun Henry – Line 9 has been flowing light crude oil through Chippewas of the Thames traditional territory for 40 years without our consent.
- From Community Report – At least 8 treaties are affected from Line 9’s existence and changes along with the estimated spill costs of $1-10 billion are particularly troubling as Enbridge reports it only has general liability insurance covering up to CAD685 million.
- Counterpunch – Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal project has been fiercely fought in Ontario and Quebec for years. Line 9 is an aging, 40-year-old pipeline, built of sub-standard materials, which will be used to sometimes carry a product (dilbit) that it wasn’t designed for, at a greatly increased capacity and pressure, and after a second reversal of flow direction since being built in 1975. For these reasons, pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz (president of Accufacts Inc.) has stated that the probability of Line 9 rupturing is over 90% in the first five years of operation. 
Enbridge’s website says this about the pipeline.
Line 9 will carry mainly light crude oil. However, shippers will be permitted to ship crude oil blends or types that meet quality specifications set by Enbridge, and filed with the National Energy Board. This includes heavy crudes such as diluted bitumen – which has been studied by numerous scientific bodies, including the highly respected and influential National Academy of Sciences, and found to be non-corrosive and safe for pipelines.
So Enbridge is also lying in this above line. The National Academy of Sciences study found that “there must be a greater level of concern associated with spills of diluted bitumen compared to spills of commonly transported crude oils.” One of the recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences is that oil companies need to inform regulators which type of crude they are transporting in every pipeline segment before a spill occurs. (Spills of Diluted Bitumen from Pipelines: A Comparative Study of Environmental Fate, Effects, and Response)
So basically. Enbridge got permission to reverse flow, change what was flowing in the pipeline to a more dangerous commodity and increase the pressure while lying about it.
This rightfully pissed some people off, especially those that care about things that corporations don’t (hint: anything but money). It is of no surprise that this reversal and pipeline change of use wasn’t done in the right way and so there is unrest.
The women who lead this act of resistance were arrested, held overnight and released with minimal conditions. All three were charged with counts of Mischief Over $5,000 (maximum sentence of 10 years in prison) and Mischief Endangering Life (maximum sentence of life in prison). Stone Stewart was also charged with Resisting Arrest. (Line 9 Shut Down)
In a letter from the Council of Canadians they say that “this is the first time I have heard of anyone being charged with Mischief endangering life and it strikes me as a heavy handed attempt to intimidate anyone who is considering taking similar actions.”
It is fascinating that turning off a shut off valve is endangering life. What does that say about Enbridge’s safety measures? What is the consequence of Enbridge lying, their negligence to follow due process and their constantly putting profits over people and our environment.
Enbridge says nice words:
Irrespective of this outcome, Enbridge is absolutely committed to fostering a strengthened relationship with the COTTFN [Chippewas of the Thames First Nation] built upon openness, respect and mutual trust, and to working through outstanding issues to find mutually agreeable solutions,” White said in the email.
We will continue our efforts to engage with indigenous communities above and beyond what is required by regulators to build trust and address any concerns or input they may have with our projects or operations.
However, I think it’s time for them to put their money and public relations where their mouth is and release a statement calling on all charges to be dropped for Vanessa Gray, Stone Stewart and Sarah Scanlon. Not only are they telling the truth, they are fighting for our well being and health. They are reacting to oppressive corporate measures that has no place in our communities and I commend them for their work.