An oil spill on an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin has critics in B.C. questioning the safety of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

About 1,200 barrels (190,000 litres) seeped out of an Enbridge pipeline in Wisconsin, which was delivering Canadian crude to Chicago-area refineries. According to Reuters, Enbridge plans to replace the leaky Wisconsin oil pipeline Monday, though it is not clear when the line will restart.

About 300 million litres of heavy crude spilled from a ruptured Enbridge pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Investigators with the U.S. Transportation Safety Board released their findings earlier this month and ripped into the company, noting it did nothing for 17 hours after oil started gushing and that it knew about small cracks in the pipeline for five years.

While officials with Enbridge say the situation in Wisconsin is being treated as a top priority, that doesn't reassure environmental groups and native communities that have staunchly opposed the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal.

“I think the U.S. and Canadian authorities that regulate the pipeline should immediately suspend operation permits and licensing and conduct a full scale inquiry into the operations and safety practices of Enbridge,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix is heading to Terrace, B.C., on Monday to meet with aboriginal leaders about the pipeline. He also plans to visit Kitimat, the western terminus for the Northern Gateway, where 500,000 barrels of oil a day would be loaded aboard tankers and shipped overseas.

For Dix, the Wisconsin spill shows yet again just how risky a pipeline through British Columbia could be.

“This just builds on other evidence that this is not in B.C.'s economic or environmental interest and shows the folly of attempting to sacrifice environmental risk for B.C. money,” he said.

Seeking reassurances

The pipeline must pass a National Energy Board review, which is currently underway. B.C. will get its chance to cross-examine Enbridge this fall.

“We need to be assured by the company, the National Energy Board and authorities on the coast that there are systems in place that will be able to minimize the risk and response to risks without the taxpayer being left with a problem,” said B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake.

The review is expected to wrap up sometime in 2013.

The $5.5-billion, 1,177-kilometre Northern Gateway project would bring bitumen to Kitimat from the Alberta oilsands. The company recently announced a slate of safety improvements, including thicker pipe and better monitoring, that pushed the project's pricetag by $500 million to $6 billion.

Northern Gateway is at the centre of an argument between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford over how to fairly divvy up the project's risks and rewards.

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  • June 18, 2012 -- Elk Point

    Enbridge Inc.'s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/19/enbridge-elk-point-spill-_n_1610613.html" target="_hplink">Athabasca pipeline leaked an estimated 230,000 litres of oil</a> about 24 kilometres southeast of Elk Point, Alberta. <br></br> A member of Greenpeace cleans up a mock oil spill outside the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline office in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, June 13, 2012. The mock spill was set up by Greenpeace to show the risks of spills similar to the recent one outside of Red Deer, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • June 18, 2012 -- Elk Point

    Although the spill didn't leak into any waterways, Energy Resources Conservation Board's Darin Barter said the<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/19/enbridge-elk-point-spill-_n_1610613.html" target="_hplink"> spill was considered "significant" in size</a>.<br></br> "Any amount of crude oil out of a pipeline is significant to us. Obviously we've had a number of pipeline incidents in the past short while and we're monitoring cleanup on them and we have a number of investigations underway."

  • June 7, 2012 -- Red Deer River

    An estimated 475,000 litres of oil <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/09/alberta-oil-spill-red-deer-river_n_1583579.html" target="_hplink">spilled from a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline</a> and proceeded to leak into the Red Deer River. <br></br> Oil from a pipeline leak coats a pond near Sundre, Alta., Friday, June 8, 2012. Plains Midstream Canada says one of their non-functioning pipeline leaked between 1,000-3,000 barrels of oil. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

  • June 7, 2012 -- Red Deer River

    Some of the oil <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/11/alberta-oil-pipeline-spill-red-deer-river-clean-up_n_1588536.html" target="_hplink">seeped into the Gleniffer reservoir</a>, which some Albertans rely on for drinking water. Plains Midstream Canada <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/06/11/alberta-oil-pipeline-spill-red-deer-river-clean-up_n_1588536.html" target="_hplink">trucked in drinking water</a> for those residing near the area.

  • May 19, 2012 -- Northwest Alberta

    Pace Oil and Gas's waste disposal line <a href="http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/energy-resources/Rainbow Lake spill pegged at 22,000 barrels/6683338/story.html" target="_hplink">leaked about 22,000 barrels of a mixture of oil and water</a> 20 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake. The spill was discovered on May 19 by another oil and gas company.

  • May 19, 2012 -- Northwest Alberta

    The oil spill "<a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/pipeline-spill-sends-22000-barrels-of-oil-mix-into-alberta-muskeg/article2447765/" target="_hplink">ranks among the largest in North America in recent years</a>," the Globe and Mail wrote.

  • June 26, 2011 -- Swan Hills

    A pipeline explosion and oil leak at a Pengrowth Energy facility caused a pipeline to leak <a href="http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110627/edm_oil_110627/20110627/?hub=EdmontonHome" target="_hplink">500 barrels of light, sweet crude oil into Judy Creek</a> near Swan Hills, Alberta.

  • June 26, 2011 -- Swan Hills

    Energy Resources Conservation Board spokesman Darin Barter said the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2011/06/27/edmonton-oil-spill-swan-hills.html" target="_hplink">leak was relatively small</a>. <br></br> "It's what we would consider a minor spill with 95 per cent of the product coming out of the pipeline being water and five per cent oil," he told CBC. "However, we're taking it very seriously, as is the company."

  • April 29, 2011 -- Little Buffalo First Nation

    Plains Midstream Canada's 45-year-old Rainbow pipeline<a href="http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/a-dire-warning-from-a-broken-pipe/article4262774/?service=mobile" target="_hplink"> spilled roughly 28,000 barrels of light crude oil</a> near Little Buffalo First Nation.

  • April 29, 2011 -- Little Buffalo First Nation

    Residents, including children, <a href="http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/urgent-measures-needed-for-citizens-of-little-buffalo-first-nation-in-" target="_hplink">reported incidents of burning eyes, stomach pains, disorientation, nausea and headaches</a>, according to the Assembly of First Nations.