By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Despite Hamilton’s limited authority, councillors agreed to investigate Enbridge Pipeline’s proposal to seek a flow reversal from Westover to Montreal.
Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie, who introduced the motion at council’s Nov. 28 meeting, felt it was the city’s duty to review the issue.
He said an oil spill, which occurred inKalamazoo, Michigan in 2010, unleashing 3.3 million litres of oil into the surrounding water and community, could happen in Flamborough, affecting drink water and nearby wetlands.
“To seek intervener status, information needs to come out,” said McHattie. “It’s important for Hamiltonians to know this issue.”
Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead echoed those comments, arguing to ignore an issue that could potentially affect the local environment would be abrogating the city’s responsibility.
“We have an obligation to protect our watershed,” he said.
ButStoney Creekcouncillor Brad Clark said the city has no authority over the pipeline. He said city staff, and councillors, have more pressing issues to investigate.
“We are not the regulator,” he said. “There is no where here we can stick our fingers. Our staff has a lot of work to do. It’s a federal matter. I don’t understand why we would delve into it.”
Clarksaid the city doesn’t seek intervener status at the National Energy Board when companies install gas pipes, nor does the city start investigating on its own nuclear reactors.
Enbridge is expected to submit a preliminary application by the end of November to the National Energy Board requesting to reverse the flow from Westover toMontrealto its Line 9 pipe. Once the NEB reviews the application, it will determine the completeness of the application and issue a hearing order.
Environmentalists repeatedly urged councillors to somehow stop Enbridge’s request to the NEB, either through its municipal laws, or by forcing the company to pay a bond. City staff has said the city has no authority to stop the pipeline.
Activists have said the company will send bitumen from the oil sands through the pipe, which has been identified as a contributor to climate change.
In July, the NEB granted Enbridge’s request to reverse the flow on its Line 9 pipe from Sarnia to Westover.
Enbridge officials, who recently attended a government issues committee, defended the 36-year-old pipe constructed in 1976. They said the pipe will be equipped to carry diluted bitumen, “but not that it will carry the product,” said Graham White, manager of business communications for Enbridge.
The pipe will predominately carry light, medium and heavy crude oil, but not raw bitumen. Enbridge officials said the company has confidence in the safety of the pipe, and it has not experienced an internal corrosion failure on its mainline pipeline system.
Both Flamborough councillors said they haven’t heard any complaints from residents about Enbridge.
“They are good corporate partners,” said Judi Partridge. “I have not had a concerned raised in Flamborough.”