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Posted by on Jul 6, 2015 in General News

Pipeline activists stage ‘die-in’ at site of Line 9 pipe above Finch station

Demonstrators sprawled on the floor of Finch subway station amid rush-hour foot-traffic Monday morning to protest an oil pipeline that runs right through the TTC hotspot.

They warn potential disaster awaits if the 40-year-old Line 9, owned by Enbridge, ruptures.

“If it happens here, it’s going to be grave,” said John Spragge, a member of the Toronto No Line 9 Network. “A large part of the Toronto subway would probably be out of action for an extended period.”

The pipeline, its planned west-to-east, beefed-up oil flow not yet online, stretches from Sarnia, Ont., to refineries in Montreal. Near Yonge St. and Finch Ave., it will pump 300,000 barrels of heavy crude a day just 60 centimetres above the subway structure.

The steel tube lies sandwiched between the stairwell of the Bishop Ave. entrance and escalators leading to the Metrolinx terminal.

Participants at the “die-in” lay splayed across a pool of black fabric one floor below ground level shortly after 8 a.m., with inadvertent backing from a South American pan flautist. Two nuns from St. John’s Convent held up a banner reading, “No Line 9, No Tar Sands Pipeline,” as hundreds of passengers strode the concourse between the bus terminal and subway platforms.

Julia Sierra, a mother who lives on Greenview Ave., less than two blocks from the station, said the spectre of a line rupture frightens her.

“Anything that is threatening the safety of the neighbourhood is always a concern,” she told the Star.

A small sign outside the station denotes a “high pressure petroleum pipeline,” but Sierra was not aware oil is pumping virtually underneath her feet.

“Dangerous,” her young daughter said.

“Nothing is more important to the TTC than safety,” said spokesperson Brad Ross.

“It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with Enbridge … The site contingency plan that was developed was done so in full partnership with them.”

Enbridge has stated it cannot publicly release emergency plans particular to certain sites for security reasons, but has worked with the TTC, Toronto fire and police services and city hall on Finch station.

“All agencies have worked closely to make sure that in the event of a situation, there will be a co-ordinated and effective response,” Enbridge spokesperson Graham White told the Star.

“All of Line 9 has been extensively inspected and maintained to ensure its ability to operate safely.”

In a submission to federal regulators in October 2013, the City of Toronto warned that the Bishop Ave. stairs provide “no barrier to the flow of the product should there be a release.”

If a rupture sent petroleum pumping down the stairs or escalators, “there would be an enormous risk to thousands of daily passengers and TTC workers,” the city wrote.