Expert report: Energy East spill impact analysis for the Ottawa-Gatineau region

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In this report, Savaria Expert-Conseils Inc. evaluates the impacts of a petroleum hydrocarbons spill from TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline in the main watercourses of the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

The proposed Energy East pipeline would pass through the south end of the City of Ottawa. It would cross 68 watercourses in the Mississippi and Rideau watersheds, including those two rivers. Both of these rivers are major tributaries of the Ottawa River.

Highlights from the report include:

  • A spill from the proposed Energy East pipeline could have a direct impact on the drinking water sources for the cities of Gatineau and Ottawa, which are 52 km and 60 km away from river crossings for the Mississippi River and Rideau River respectively.
  • A spill from the proposed Energy East pipeline could have impacts on aquatic ecosystems, recreational activities and economic activity (e.g. tourism).
  • The pipeline goes through the Baxter Conservation Area and other wetlands, where a spill could cause irreversible damage to those ecosystems.
  • A catastrophic spill could dump up to 23 million litres into the rivers within two hours.
  • Cleaning up a major spill could cost up to $1 billion.
  • Case study: 250,000 litres of heavy oil were spilled in the North Saskatchewan River and travelled over 500 km downstream.
  • Case study: 3.3 million litres of oil were spilled in the Kalamazoo River (Michigan) and travelled at least 60 km downstream.

Savaria Experts-Conseils Inc. is an engineering consulting firm specializing in site characterization and remediation as well as in the implementation of environmental conservation and protection measures. The report was prepared by Abdelkader Alachi, a Savaria Experts-Conseils geoscientist, who has expertise in geochemical and hydrogeochemical modeling, water quality monitoring and environmental impact assessment and a Ph.D. in Isotope Hydrogeology.

This report was commissioned jointly by Ecology Ottawa and the Council of Canadians.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016