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Line 9B Reversal: NEB decision imminent

Within a few weeks, the National Energy Board will come out for or against the Line 9B Reversal. If the project is approved, tar sands crude could soon flow through Quebec.

Enbridge first announced its Line 9B Pipeline Reversal and Line 9 Capacity Expansion project in May 2012. It has two components:

  • reversing the direction of the flow in the Line 9B pipeline between North Westover, Ontario and Montreal
  • increasing the capacity for Line 9 by 25%, from 240,000 barrels a day to 300,000 barrels a day

This decision could have major consequences for the many residents that live along the 639 km pipeline. Line 9 goes by:

  • Toronto
  • Kingston
  • Vaudreuil-Soulanges
  • the Lower Laurentians
  • Lanaudière
  • Laval
  • Montreal

(Wondering if you live along the pipeline? Check out our interactive pipeline map.)

Why we are worried

International pipeline safety expert, Richard Kuprewicz, has pointed out that there is a high risk that Line 9 will rupture in the early years if the project goes through.

In fact, more than three quarters of the pumping stations along the route have been found to be non-compliant with National Energy Board rules. 

What can be done

If the reversal goes through, steps will have to be taken to make this pipeline safe for the citizens of Quebec.

  • Enbridge should create a $3 billion fund to pay for any damage in the event of a disaster, as requested by the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the Ville de Montréal, and the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources (CAPERN).
  • Enbridge should conduct hydrostatic studies on the integrity of the pipeline (run water through the pipeline at high pressure to test for flaws that could lead to a rupture).
  • Enbridge should make its emergency and prevention plans public. 

What will happen to the crude oil if this is approved

If the National Energy Board approves this project, Quebec refineries – Suncor in Montreal and Valero in Lévis – will start processing highly polluting tar sands crude. But it's clear that the ultimate goal for oil and pipeline companies is to create a pathway to foreign markets for this oil. This could be the first step in a quiet revival of the former Trailbreaker project, which would have reversed a pipeline between Montreal and Portland, Maine to carry tar sands crude from Western Canada on to seaport.

For more information, consult our tar sands toolkit.