Enbridge's Northern Gateway project proposes twin pipelines running the 1,172 km between Brunderheim, Alberta and Kitimat, British Columbia1. The pipelines will take condensate (a petroleum product used to thin tar sands oil) to the tar sands, and carry crude oil from the tar sands back to supertankers waiting at the Kitimat marine terminal. The two pipelines would run through B.C.’s rugged Coastal mountain range and the Rockies, crossing or running parallel to more than 1,000 streams and rivers2. A single pipeline leak could poison drinking water, destroy wild salmon ecosystems and severely jeopardize the integrity of the Skeena and Upper Fraser watersheds.
Despite constant assurances from Enbridge that their pipelines will not break, an assessment of the company’s pipeline safety records strongly suggest otherwise. Between 1999 and 2008, Enbridge recorded 610 spills from overland pipelines, resulting in the release of 132,000 barrels of oil into farms, wetlands and waterways2. To put this in perspective, this volume of oil amounts to half that spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. Perhaps the worst of these spills occurred in the summer of 2010 when a 40-year old Enbridge pipeline spilled one million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Enbridge is well aware of their inadequacies when it comes to pipeline safety. Since 2002, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has cited Enbridge 31 times for not properly inspecting equipment or training its employees3. Hardly a trustworthy record.
The pipeline route data were received from Enbridge.