Energy East Summary: point-of-view from Council of Canadians

Jill McCubbin2by Councillor Jill McCubbin
Last week, on 17 March 2015, Andrea Harden of the Council of Canadians addressed Mississippi Mills Council  in order to present another point of view on the Energy East pipeline project.
A few of statistics communicated by Andrea:
  • Equivalent of 1.1 million barrels / day planned to travel the pipeline
  • New pipeline planned to be built for the stretch east from Iroquois, Ontario (near Cornwall)
  • From the west to Iroquois, the pipeline will be “retrofitted pipeline” (in some areas across Canada the pipeline is already 30-40 years old, nearing the end of its lifecycle)
The Council of Canadians looks at TransCanada’s historic overall safety track record to assess the safety of the Energy East project. Items brought to our attention by Andrea:
  • Nine ruptures on TransCanada’s Mainline system (the company wants to convert one of these pipelines for Energy East) between, 1994-2011. Of these nine, only one or two were detected by the electronic monitoring system. Conclusion: the company can not predict nor prepare for ruptures or spills, which do happen
  • 22 minutes is generally the “desirable” amount of time TransCanada has suggested will elapse before an oil spill would be responded to. TransCanada has had spills continue over 6 hours before being stopped in Canada.

Of possible local concern to Mississippi Mills residents:

  1. There is no information at all given in TransCanada collaterals or promotional materials or on its website in regards to how a bitumen-carrying pipeline will cross below the Mississippi or about how the pipeline will be upgraded and monitored along the Mississippi River near Pakenham.
  2. Spills of bitumen into water are still rare, but do happen. So the safest and best methods for bitumen clean-up are yet unknown. Bitumen sinks to the bottom of a waterway. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, a bitumen spill was partially cleaned by dredging the bottom of river – not an optimum way to “help” a river ecosystem.
  3. The toxicity of bitumen is unknown.
Industry is expanding its network of rail transportation of bitumen with or without the pipeline expansion. So, if you are “pro” pipeline transportation of bitumen and “anti” rail transportation, bitumen and oil will continue to be transported by rail in large quantities even after the pipeline is completed (if it is completed). The dangers of transportation of oil by rail are real and of concern, but will not be “fixed” with an approved pipeline.

The Energy East pipeline is transporting oil / bitumen for export. The idea of “bringing oil to Canadians via a Canadian pipeline” is a myth. This project is not displacing foreign imports of oil – although that’s what TransCanada wants Canadians to believe. The pipeline project is to support exports to foreign markets. From a climate perspective alone, the pipeline (which represents a 40% increase in production for the oil industry) is not a realistic or sustainable solution, nor for economies looking for long term solutions to the energy crisis (and environmental crisis)

The Council of Canadians is funded by donations from Canadians. The Council does not accept corporate or government funding. The Council’s research speaks for itself. Please contact Andrea at aharden@canadians.org for more information on the Council or on the Energy East project.