Environmental and citizen groups in Quebec are demanding the National Energy Board (NEB) explain why it refuses to order a hydrostatic safety test of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline, a west-to-east oil pipeline that could come online as early as next month.
A hydrostatic test or hydrotest is a commonly used method to determine whether a pipeline can operate safely at its maximum operating pressure. The test involves pumping water at through the pipeline at levels higher than average operating pressures. Enbridge is reversing the flow of the 39-year old Line 9 pipeline, which previously carried imported oil inland from Canada's east coast, and will increase its capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
“[The NEB] claims to be transparent and to listen to what the public is saying, yet despite having all the required information in their possession for over six months, it refuses to render a written and reasoned decision on whether or not it will impose hydrostatic tests on the length of Line 9B,” Lorraine Caron, spokesperson for the citizen group Citoyens au Courant, said.
When the NEB, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, approved the Enbridge pipeline project in March 2014, the board stated it could order a hydrostatic test of Line 9 if it felt the integrity of the 39-year old pipeline was in question. So far the board has chosen not to exercise this option and has said very little as to why.
“Refusing to make a decision public means the NEB wants to keep the public in a state of ignorance. This only contributes to diminishing public confidence in the NEB,” Steven Guilbeault, executive director of Equiterre, said.