Deshkaan Ziibing, Anishinabek Territory-(ENEWSPF)- As this statement is being released, individuals from affected communities throughout south-western Ontario have interrupted work on a section of Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline. Activists stopped the work around 7am this morning, asserting that Line 9 poses a danger to people, animals, land, and water.
Those involved in this blockade intend to stop construction on the site indefinitely.
This site is currently undergoing a valve installation 500m from the Thames River, yet this construction will not add any protection against a leak of toxic diluted bitumen into this important water source as it is located on the far side of the river. Line 9 is the same age and design as the Enbridge pipeline which caused the largest in-land oil spill in American history. Enbridge has identified more than 12,000 flaws in Line 9’s structure, and the line has already leaked at least 35 times in less than 40 years.
“This construction project is a band-aid attempt and Line 9 is too old and damaged to operate safely. The new valves aren’t designed to protect rivers, they’re designed to maximise the amount of bitumen that can flow through the line,” says Sarah Scanlon, activist.
“We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the National Energy Board and within local and regional governments. The concerns expressed by individual people and municipalities were ignored. The official processes have merely rubber-stamped dangerous tar sands projects and failed to protect us, so we are here out of necessity,” says Rachel Avery, a blockader. “This project is also being illegally forced through without meaningful consultation of Indigenous communities. For example, the Chippewas of the Thames have appealed the NEB approval, but Enbridge has continued to work on the line regardless,” Avery continued.
More than half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Thames Watershed. Rare species such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle, queen snake, black redhorse and Virginia Opossum rely on its specific ecosystems. Food growers have relied on its fertile valley for over 11 000 years. This construction site is less than a kilometre from the river, and is in the middle of active farm land.
Activists assert this project is one piece of a larger problem. “This is not about pipelines versus rail; it’s about harmful resource extraction as a whole. Tar sands and fracking related industries are environmentally and economically unsustainable,” says Wolfgang Chrapko, blockader.
Line 9 is one of many proposed pipeline projects in so-called Canada slated to carry tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil to the coast for export. Tar sands bitumen is the dirtiest oil in the world. Its extraction and refinement require mass deforestation, irreversible water contamination, climate-changing carbon emissions, and toxic industrial waste. The tar sands are killing people and environments every day on a local and global scale.
Once a river is poisoned, it cannot be undone. We need to act before it is too late. Join us and let’s Dam Line 9!
Blockaders are also inviting supporters to come to the site and donate supplies. The site is located on Oxford County Rd 5 (aka 17th Line) in Innerkip, ON (near Woodstock) between Township Rd 10 and Township Rd 9 (aka Braemar Side Road).