Activists lock themselves to fence to protest pipeline reversal
Activists locked themselves to a chain-link fence Tuesday morning to protest the reversal of the Enbridge 9B pipeline.
Two women chained themselves to the gates of the Enbridge plant in Montreal East, while a third scaled a tripod. Two others were stopped before they could lock themselves to a fence.
They say the pipeline is not safe.
"We are opposed to any form of transport of bitumen tar sands through Quebec," said protester Alyssa Symonds-Belanger. "Enbridge's Line 9 has only been approved by the National Energy Board but it hasn't been approved by citizens."
In March the National Energy Board approved the plan to alter the flow of the pipeline so it would go from West to East, and within the next few weeks Enbridge is scheduled to begin pumping 300,000 barrels of crude from Alberta and Ontario to Montreal. Some of that crude oil will be refined in Montreal, and some will be loaded into tankers and shipped elsewhere via the St. Lawrence River.
Pierre Arcand, Quebec’s energy minister, said the National Energy Board has assured the government the project will be safe.
“All security aspects will be there and that the board will make sure that there's total security in any projects in the province of Quebec,” he said, then adding that there are no guarantees. “You cannot prevent some accidents.”
Pierre-Olivier Parent, the CSN-Construction union representative affiliated with other workers on the project said they also have concerns about the 40-year-old pipeline's integrity and possible damage to Quebec's environment.
“As workers, we see first-hand the defaults on the infrastructures and dangers people are put at,” he said.
The protesters say the public is opposed to transferring crude from the Alberta tar sands through Montreal, and that regulators ignored public opinion in approving the pipeline's flow change.
In a written statement Enbridge said:
"We do not believe that three protesters who break the law to make their point represent the people of Quebec. We have received support from the people of Quebec that will benefit and sustain their vital refining industry. The public review of line 9B was extensive, open and thorough."
They say blocking the entrances to the Enbridge plant, located at Henri Bourassa Blvd. and Broadway North in Montreal East, is the only way to have their voices heard.
After examining the locks throughout the morning Montreal police decided to enlist the fire department to assist in removing the locks, which they finished at 1:30 p.m.
Constable Dany Lacoursiere said the three will be charged with mischief after being arrested.
Enbridge’s first test of the pipeline is Oct. 15.
An earlier version of this article said the protest took place at the Suncor refinery. We regret the error.