Lachute farmer describes ‘David and Goliath’ relationship with Enbridge, CTV News

CTV Montreal • Published Tuesday, December 3, 2013 10:24PM EST | Last Updated Tuesday, December 3, 2013 10:55PM EST

QUEBEC CITY — They’re calling it a game of Russian Roulette.

Environmental groups are warning the Enbridge pipeline reversal project through Montreal would be a risky endeavour, despite the company’s assurances that bringing Alberta oil east will pose few risks.

Lachute farmer Claire Durocher, however, said the risks are obvious. At the continuing Line 9 hearings before the National Energy Board in Quebec City, she described how Enbridge treated her like family until she noticed odd oily leaks around the company’s pipeline on her land.

“They treat us like nothing. We seem to be alone and they seem to be David and Goliath,” she said.

Enbridge said tests show the pipeline is not the source of the oily puddles, but added that it wants to bulldoze her trees to examine the pipeline.

“I’m very concerned with it because if they scrap my land I think I have to pay for that,” she said.

Environmental advocate Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre said Enbridge has a sad track record

“This company spills every year on average over the last five years 1.7 million litres of oil, so every three years they reproduce the Lac-Megantic accident,” he said.

The pipeline has a coating similar to another Enbridge pipeline known as 6B that spilled 3.3 million litres of crude oil in Michigan in 2010.

“These pipelines are actually directly comparable, let’s not forget that the rupture in 6B was into the Kalamazoo River and cost $1 billion in clean-up fees,” said Brigid Rowan, an energy economist with the Goodman Group.

The groups worry the company’s plan to change the type of oil flowing through the pipeline will increase pressure and the risk.

Enbridge, however, said the groups have their facts wrong.

“Actually the pressure will be lowered under which we operate. At no time will we increase the pressure,” said Enbridge spokesperson Eric Prud’homme, adding that Enbridge examines its pipelines by the millimetre.

“We’re talking about technology that’s used for the NASA program and MRI technology that’s used in the hospitals, this is what we’re using,” he said.

Despite concerns in Quebec, the National Energy Board could give the go-ahead early next year and Enbridge says the flow on Line 9 could be reversed in late 2014.