04/20/2013 18:06 EDT | Updated 06/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal asks to join public hearings on Enbridge proposal

Several Quebec stakeholders, including the City of Montreal, are hoping to speak out regarding Enbridge’s proposal to reverse the flow of a section of a pipeline in order to bring crude from the Alberta oil sands to Quebec.

Friday was the deadline for members of the public to submit their requests to participate in the National Energy board’s public hearings on the Line 9 proposal, which are scheduled for August.

The proposal would see the flow reversed in the 639-kilometre section, which runs from North Westover, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec.

Enbridge is also asking to expand the capacity of the pipeline from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels per day.

Josée Duplessis, the Montreal executive committee member in charge of sustainable development and the environment, says the City of Montreal wants make sure plans for the pipeline follow the highest standards when it comes to the environment, public security and economic impact.

“Our objective is to ensure that we have all the elements in hand to take a clear position on the project,” she said.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has also asked to participate in the August hearings.

While the council is not officially for or against the reversal of the pipeline, Grand Chief Michael Delisle Junior says community members would like the opportunity to voice their views.

“It’s a 40-year-old piece of infrastructure. We have environmental concerns,” Delisle said.

The council is concerned that a leak could contaminate the waterways that members of the community depend on for drinking water. The pipeline does not cross Kahnawake territory, but it does cross the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers.

Delisle says they are also worried about how adding to the pipeline’s volume could increase risk factors.

But according to Eric Prud’Homme, Enbridge’s head of public affairs for eastern Canada, pipelines are the safest way to carry crude oil.

He says any valve along the Quebec section of Line 9 could be shut down within three minutes.

“If there’s a landowner along the right of way that calls us and says there’s something different in terms of a smell, smoke coming out from the ground, immediately when they call us we shut [the valve],” Prud’Homme said.

Prud’homme pointed out the economic benefits of Enbridge’s proposal. By reversing the flow, Prud’Homme says Quebec’s two oil refineries will remain active and competitive for years to come.

“It’s over 1,000 jobs,” he said.