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Ontario citizens raise concerns about oil pipeline threats, during “Enbridge Day"

by Climate Justice London Ontario

Just north of London, Ontario
Just north of London, Ontario
Just north of London, Ontario
Just north of London, Ontario

Today, as Enbridge has been celebrating itself at a Toronto forum for investors, Environmental Justice Toronto has confronted the company to raise concerns about Enbridge practices across the continent.  Elsewhere in the province, Climate Justice London, Ontario is joining mounting opposition toward pipeline spill threats in Canada and the United States.

In London, Ontario, the Thames River and Fanshawe Lake could be flooded with oil from a ruptured pipeline. To confront those local oil pipeline spill risks, a community group called Climate Justice London, Ontario is launching a pipeline campaign and research project.  Given how Enbridge and Exxon Mobil pipelines cross the Thames River, these pipelines pose a constant threat to this city.

"Here in London, we could see a spill that matches the millions of litres of oil that poured into a Michigan creek this July, along the way to Sarnia.  In September, there was another Enbridge spill near Chicago.  Such pipeline pollution should not surprise us anymore.  Enbridge lists more than 600 spills between 1999 and 2008, when this company was responsible for approximately 132,000 barrels of fossil fuel leakage.  Why would we accept these risks?," says Toban Black, a graduate student in Sociology with Environment & Sustainability.

An Exxon Mobil oil pipeline passes through our city, and Enbridge Line 9 passes just north of London.  This Enbridge pipeline crosses various local farms and neighbouring townships -- all of which are at risk.  If there were a pipeline breach near the Thames River, oil pollution could flow south through London’s only Lake, and along a river that passes through the entire city.

"What little local water we have here is underappreciated.  Londoners still enjoy the Thames ecosystem despite its pollution, however, and the last thing the Thames needs is more oil seeping into the ecosystem. We have seen the devastation from the recent BP Gulf Coast disaster.  We should be trying to find ways to avoid more local pollution and clean-up costs," says David McColl, an engineering student.

Oil that is piped through London flows toward Sarnia’s Chemical Valley, where energy companies are churning out airborne pollutants that blow toward the residents of London.  As a result of industrial pollution in the region, London has the worst air quality in the province, by some measures.  In light of such regional links, our group will be supporting nearby Sarnia and Aamjiwnaang residents who have been raising concerns about how Enbridge is not accountable to their local communities. On September 30th,  members of Climate Justice London, Ontario joined a Sarnia rally to highlight Enbridge mismanagement around the St. Clair River.

Our group also will be supporting Quebec residents who have been raising concerns about Enbridge Trailbreaker plans, which entail bringing tar sands bitumen across the Thames River, and beyond.  We will be collaborating with Climate Justice Montreal as we investigate and confront this Trailbreaker tar sands project.

Canadian and American citizens are becoming more and more aware of threats from oil pipeline companies.  Enbridge has met with intense opposition in British Columbia -- another province which tar sands bitumen could be piped through, if pipeline plans are allowed to proceed.  American citizens likewise have been challenging Keystone XL pipeline plans that are endangering their waters, lands, and communities, in order to bring tar sands bitumen south from Alberta.

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Toban Black (Toban Black)
London, Ontario
Member since April 2010


541 words


Native sovereignty

Of course, the construction of pipelines also is a violation of community sovereignty -- which is especially problematic when indigenous peoples are forced to accept pipelines.

Those sovereignty issues didn't quite make it into this particular press release.

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