Enbridge to release pipeline safety data to Hamilton

Enbridge will have a test complete and a full report ready in about six months, but that's not soon enough for the city.
This map shows where Enbridge's Line 9 runs. (NEB)

Enbridge Pipelines will release safety data about the state of an oil pipeline that runs through rural Hamilton.

The company was granted approval by the National Energy Board (NEB) in July 2012 to change the direction of the flow of Line 9, which runs from Sarnia to Westover. The pipeline's flow would change from westbound to eastbound, to send domestic oil from the west to Ontario and Quebec.

The report "will be a summary of data from the 'integrity tool' that conducts surveys on the interior wall of the pipeline," said Ken Hall, spokesperson for the oil giant.

The information from Enbridge comes at the request from local city councillors, he said.

The company just completed tests to find dents, corrosion and possible problem spots inside the pipe that stretches between the Westover pump station near Flamborough and Montreal. Enbridge engineers are currently reviewing the data collected and excavations to investigate and repair any weak spots are planned for the spring, Hall said.

He anticipates a full report to be delivered to the city in six months, but that's a timeline that won't work for the municipality.

"That's going to be problematic," said Coun. Brian McHattie, who has lead council motions to get more information on the pipeline.

McHattie was hoping for information prior to the next round of NEB hearings on Line 9 scheduled for the end of August, when the city could have a chance to oppose the reversal.

"You want that information beforehand," he said. "It's extremely important information."

Line 9 was originally built in 1975 to transport crude oil from Western Canada to Montreal refineries, in an eastbound direction. Thirteen years ago, the pipeline flow was changed to bring imported oil into Ontario.

When the flow reversal occurs, there is a possibility of accident or malfunction of the pumps directing flow inside the pipes. In other words, there is a chance of a spill.

Approval for the reversal for Line 9B, the part of the pipe that will carry oil from Hamilton to Montreal, is pending from the NEB.

Hall is part of a team from Enbridge who will present details of the reversal to the Hamilton Conservation Authority board of directors on March 7.

McHattie is expecting city staff to report to councillors at the end of March about ways the municipality can participate in upcoming NEB hearings.