National Energy Board approves repairs to Enbridge pipeline near Fort Simpson, N.W.T.

The National Energy Board has signed off on $53 million in repairs to Enbridge’s Line 21 pipeline near Fort Simpson, N.W.T.

Company hopes to have pipeline reactivated in 8 months, has approval from nearby First Nations

The National Energy Board Northern community liaison Dr. Brian Chambers, left, presents the NEB's decision on repairs to the Line 21 pipeline near Fort Simspon, N.W.T., to Liidlii Kue First Nation Chief Gerald Antoine in Yellowknife on Jan. 25, 2018. (NEB/Twitter)

The National Energy Board (NEB) has approved Enbridge Pipelines' plan to replace a section of the Line 21 pipeline near Fort Simpson, N.W.T., which has been shut down since November 2016.

The 869 kilometre pipeline connects oil fields in Norman Wells, N.W.T., to Zama, Alta, where it connects with another pipeline system.

A copy of the NEB's approval was hand-delivered to Liidlii Kue Chief Gerald Antoine Thursday afternoon.

"We really appreciate the work of the NEB and working with us to ensure protection of the Dene environment," Chief Antoine told CBC on Friday.

Enbridge proposes to replace a 2.5-kilometre section of the pipeline by drilling 100 metres underneath the Mackenzie River about 10 kilometres from Fort Simpson. The $53 million dollar project still requires approval from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The territory's environment minister must also sign off on the project.

A map showing the location of repairs to the Line 21 pipeline near Fort Simpson, N.W.T. (NEB)

The National Energy Board approval was given with 26 conditions Enbridge must comply with, including filing a monitoring plan. The board also says the plan must describe how local Indigenous people will participate.  Enbridge must also file Indigenous engagement reports and update an Indigenous knowledge and a land use study it did earlier.

Although the nearby First Nations initially opposed the pipeline repairs, they recently changed their position saying the company had by then adequately consulted with them about the project.

In a draft reactivation plan recently filed with the Mackenzie Valley board, Enbridge says it hopes to reactivate the pipeline in eight months.

The Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board will meet in February to discuss Enbridge's water license application.

In January 2017, Imperial Oil suspended oil production in Norman Wells because of the Line 21 pipeline shutdown. Since then the Norman Wells economy has slowed.

With files from Josh Campbell


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