Skip to Content

National Energy Board delays Enbridge's Line 9B reversal

In a surprising reversal, the National Energy Board (NEB) has sent a rather firmly worded letter to Enbridge, telling the company that it cannot proceed as planned with the reversal of its Line 9B pipeline until meeting all the conditions imposed by the NEB.

On September 11, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, speaking in his capacity as president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, expressed doubt that Enbridge's Line 9B pipeline project would be safe for the region's water supply. This declaration may have forced the hand of the NEB, which is not generally in the habit of standing in the way of oil companies or the companies that transport oil, such as Enbridge.  

A little background... In March, the NEB granted Enbridge permission to reverse the flow of the section of its Line 9 pipeline between North Westover, Ontario and Montreal, but required Enbridge to meet 30 conditions before proceeding with the reversal. Among these conditions: installing safety valves within one kilometre on both sides of major water crossings (MWCs) to limit damage in the event of a spill.

How does the NEB define a water crossing as "major"? Essentially by the fact that a spill in the vicinity would pose a threat to the environment and to public safety.

The NEB noted that:

  • "only six of the 104 MWCs identified by Enbridge to date appear to have valves installed within one kilometre on both sides of the water crossing" 
  • "the majority appear to have valves installed more than 10 km from the water crossing"

Six out of 104! Is that the "highest standard of security" that Enbridge claims to apply to its pipelines? That says a lot about this company's lack of concern for the environment and public safety.

If not for the intervention of the Montreal Metropolitan Community via Mr. Coderre, one wonders if the NEB would have clamped down on Enbridge in the same way, although there is some comfort in the fact that the intervention did indeed take place.

One thing is clear, we can't trust Enbridge, not one minute.

This article by Steven Guilbeault, senior director of Equiterre, originally appeared in French in the Métro newspaper.