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Hamilton raises concerns about Enbridge Line 10 expansion

The city of Hamilton is asking Enbridge to consider removing decommissioned parts of Line 10, while staff suggest preparing a letter of comment on the project.

Enbridge has yet to file an application for the project with the NEB

This graphic in a letter from Enbridge to the city of Hamilton regarding Line 10 reconstruction shows the process of decommissioning a part of the pipeline. (Enbridge)

The city would like to see a portion of an Enbridge pipeline that will be decommissioned in the near future removed, but the company says doing so is unnecessary.

 A staff report on the expanson of Line 10's capacity across Hamilton also raises concerns that a route change around a golf course will affect a sensitive natural area and wants more coordination with local emergency services.

In a report set to go to the general issues committee  Wednesday, staff from the public works, city manager and city solicitor's offices suggest a part of Line 10, which carries oilsands bitumen through part of Hamilton to the U.S., needs to be removed because there are concerns "there may be residue left in the decommissioned pipeline." That residue could potentially leak out of the pipe and into groundwater.

Standard practice

But Enbridge spokesman Graham White told CBC Hamilton Tuesday that leaving the pipe in the ground is industry standard and the likelihood of any kind of leak is extremely low.

"Decommissioned pipe is left in the ground only after it has been completely emptied, thoroughly cleaned and capped at both ends so it is not possible for any product to re-enter the line or impact any water. We continue to maintain the pipe, including employing anti-corrosion measures, and are responsible for it," White wrote in an email.

He added leaving the pipe in the ground "is the least disruptive option to the environment, agriculture and local landowners. It is also the safest option when there are parallel nearby pipes that are still in operation."

Enbridge has not yet filed to the National Energy Board (NEB) for permission to replace the 35 km of pipe – in a letter to council dated Nov. 11, the company had said it wanted to have the project application completed in November.

The project involves replacing 12-inch pipe with new 20-inch pipe from Westover through Binbrook, but in three spots, Enbridge is suggesting the pipeline be rerouted to avoid the Mount Hope residential subdivision and four public golf courses.

City input

The project, which is being done now to "address any future integrity concerns well before they could pose a threat to the public or the environment," would be completed by September 2018, the company said.

The staff report acknowledged "formal application has not been made to the NEB and the exact route of the pipeline has not been finalized," but still recommends the city prepare a letter of comment for when Enbridge does eventually file its application.

As well, the report calls for council to give its approval for staff to open a dialogue with Enbridge to discuss issues such as emergency services' vehicles getting around the worksite areas during construction and asking for a detailed project plan that identifies material storage, haul routes, and co-ordination with city projects.

White would not comment on the city's proactive approach to addressing the Line 10 replacement, but said Enbridge is working with the city to provide them with any information they require.

The Line 10 project has already received attention from the local activist group Hamilton 350 as well as the local chapter of the Council of Canadians. Both groups say they are watching to see what Enbridge proposes when they finally officially file paperwork to the NEB.

In September, Hamilton 350 member Don McLean told CBC Hamilton the Line 10 project could be more controversial than the Line 9B project, which prompted protests and, in one case, activists occupied Enbridge's Westover plant. The Line 10 project could get more attention because it involves new construction and is an export pipeline, McLean said.

Timeline for Enbridge's Line 10 project

  • June 2015: Initial government, aboriginal, landowner and public outreach.
  • June to December 2015: Pre-application consultation; open houses, roundtable discussions, and one-on-one meetings.
  • July 2015 to August 2016: Civil and environmental surveying.
  • November 2015: File project application with National Energy Board.
  • December 2015 to 2018: Ongoing consultation.
  • Third quarter 2017: Pipeline construction (contingent on NEB approval).
  • First quarter 2018: Project goes into service.
  • September 2018: Right-of-way restoration complete.

Source: Enbridge letter to Hamilton director of growth planning dated Nov. 11, 2015

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