It was standing room only at the Burlington Public Library for a "movie and march" protesting the "Enbridge Line 9 reversal" Saturday afternoon.

"I just don't want to see tar sand oil coming through Ontario," said Elysia Petrone, one of the event's organizers. "It's a big risk without any benefit."

Last year, the National Energy Board granted approval for Enbridge Pipelines Inc. to change the flow direction of the Line 9 pipeline, which runs oil from Sarnia to Hamilton. This would change the flow from westbound to eastbound.

Protesters worry that the flow reversal could raise the risk of a spill into the Beverly Swamp in the headwaters of Spencer Creek, Hamilton's largest watershed.


This National Energy Board map shows where Line 9 runs through Hamilton. (Courtesy National Energy Board)

Enbridge applied to reverse approximately 194 kilometres of pipeline between the Sarnia Terminal and the North Westover Pump Station near Flamborough to flow in an eastward direction in August 2011.

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

Graham White, spokesperson for Enbridge, said with the reversal "we will be able to provide Canadian crude to Canadian refineries." Enbridge's target is to pump primarily light crude through Line 9, he added.

When the flow reversal occurs, there is a possibility of accident or malfunction of the pumps directing flow inside the pipes, which could cause a spill.

On Sept. 29, 2001, Enbridge Line 10 — which runs though Binbrook to Buffalo — ruptured in a soybean field.

According to a Transportation Safety of Canada report, the spill was a result of a communications failure between a pump station in Tonawanda and a control centre in Edmonton. The Tonawanda station's failure alarm didn't go off when the rupture occurred.

More recently, Enbridge has experienced pipeline spills in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and in Northern Alberta. This kind of history worries protesters.

"We want to get as many people aware of this issue as we can," Petrone said. "We want to be Endbridge's worst nightmare."