Doug Anderson's blog

Engineered to fail

Having spent the better part of a year investigating the pipeline industry as an intervenor to the NEB line 9 hearings, I have reached the unfortunate conclusion that pipelines - all pipelines, not just Enbridge's, are engineered to fail.

That doesn't mean these companies want their pipelines to fail, it's just that the engineering standards of construction and maintenance are such that failure (leaks) is inevitable. The standards are just too weak.

America’s dirtiest secret

This story is about the situation in the United States but I can't imagine the Canadian regulatory environment being different in any substantive way.

How billions of barrels of toxic oil and gas waste are falling through regulatory cracks

By Jefferson Dodge and Joel Dyer

Boulder, Colorado Weekly, Thursday, March 13,2014

Lot more questions than answers on Line 9

I started this list of questions back a few weeks ago. I have found answers for some of them and I have added those. I also continue to add questions. If you have questions, email them to me at doug@durhamclear.ca and i will add them to the list.

If DurhamCLEAR gets intervenor status at the NEB hearings this list could form the basis of our questioning.

Line 9 thru Durham

The route of Line 9 runs roughly between Taunton Rd and Hwy 7/Winchester until it gets into Clarington where it falls below Taunton.

I drove up Hwy 12 in Whitby yesterday to see if I could find it, and it is marked at the side of the road with markers like:

 

 

Note the soggy conditions. This is just N of Groveside cemetary.

The markers appear to be only on one side of the road.

On Coronation Rd the markers looked like this:



Along the way I found many signs for natural gas pipelines but after I'd seen about 10 of them I realized that most were in front of houses and they were likely just residential feedlines. They look quite similar.


Along the hydro right of way that the Enbridge pipeline was following I found another oil pipeline labelled the Trans-northern pipeline. Apparantly this is for refined oil running from Nanticoke to Montreal. It's markers were slightly different.



Some of the terrain is quite irregular and I wonder whether the pipe goes up and down with the terrain. For it to run straight in an area like this, it would have to be about 30 feet deep.

When the snow is gone and things are a bit drier, we need to track the line across the numerous creek beds to see if any of it is sticking out like Adam found on the Rouge River.

Experts?

The following was originally written as a delegation for the EFW-WMAC meeting on Feb 13, 2013. However the bureaucracy intercepted my request and advised the committee not to hear this delegation. As the meeting proceeded their were numerous mentions of 'experts' for which my delegation might have provided some illumination.

At the November 21, 2012 meeting of the EFW-WMAC Wendy Bracken made a very detailed presentation on some of the weaknesses in the incinerator air emissions monitoring plans. It was clear that some people at the meeting didn't want to hear what she was saying and questioned her expertise. The chair closed off the discussion with a comment to the effect that perhaps the committee should get an expert to answer/challenge her presentation. I saw red.

What constitutes expertise? The obvious answer is knowledge - but in this day and age, knowledge is very easy to come by - the internet has more than a lifetime's worth, and it is eminently searchable so that anybody can become quite expert if they are prepared to take the time and effort.

What people generally mean by 'expert' is someone with a impressive bunch of letters after their names and probably a confident swagger to go with them. However, that, in itself, does not guarantee that their opinion is worth anymore than anybody else's.

When someone like the Region of Durham hires 'experts' (usually meaning a consulting company), they're looking at that bunch of letters plus the track record - who they've worked for and the reports they've written.

How to tell if a politician will be accountable

During the 2010 municipal election, DurhamCLEAR conducted an extensive - 36 question - environmental questionnaire of all the candidates - - it took most candidates 1/2 hour or longer to complete it. Some agonized over it for hours, even days trying to find the perfect answer.

While more than 130 candidates completed it, it became clear as we read the answers that only some candidates provided sincere answers -  far more provided the answers that they thought we wanted to hear - the ones that would get them the most "brownie points".

One question that we didn't answer was "Would you be accountable to your constituents?" because of course they would all answer "Yes". Most would actually have meant it even if they had, quite possibly, a very different idea of accountability than their constituents. Politicians generally have pretty strong egos and most can't imagine that their constituents would not be in general agreement with them on the main issues.

Well, after the last election, we were blidsided when a few of the candidates that we specifically set out to elect turned their backs on us. Since then I have spent considerable time trying to figure out how to make candidates more accountable.

RECALL

The long-term answer is RECALL which is a process, generally enshrined in electoral law which permits voters to petition for the removal of an elected official.

Recall is little known in Canada although British Columbia has a recall law. Also, in the last municipal election, Toronto Mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi, put it into his election platform. Unfortunately he withdrew from the race before election day. However, it got quite a bit of press coverage at the time - most of it positive.

Recall is quite common in the United States and is enshrined in several State constitutions. Click here for more detail.

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