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Council of Canadians stands with Red Head residents opposed to the Energy East pipeline

Oil RefineryRed Head is a neighbourhood on the eastern edge of Saint John, New Brunswick and is situated on the Bay of Fundy.

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has written, “Energy East would see the pipeline end in a community called Red Head, recently rezoned as an industrial area, which would be home to a new 18 tank terminal storing over 1 million litres of oil. The spectre of a spill and volatile organic compounds making it into their air is a growing concern.”

In terms of background, in August 2013 Global News reported, “Irving Oil says it plans to build a $300-million marine terminal in Saint John, N.B., following an announcement from TransCanada Corp. that it has decided to proceed with its Energy East Pipeline project. The private New Brunswick company issued a statement Thursday saying the Canaport Energy East Marine Terminal at its refinery in Saint John would handle crude oil flowing from western Canada and export it to world markets.”

The Telegraph-Journal notes, “TransCanada Corp.’s Energy East pipeline would come within a few hundred metres of [Brian Harris’] 179-acre property, the Red Head resident noted. ‘It looks as though it’s going to be right behind us’, he said… ‘I don’t know what could happen if it sprung a leak up there’. …The pipeline would pass over a high hill overlooking Harris’ property, on its way to the Irving Oil Ltd. refinery and a proposed marine terminal, part of the project. ‘This is almost the top of the mountain; of course, if you did have a rupture, it would drain down here’, he [says]…”

CBC has reported, “[Another] Red Head resident says Saint John city council has denied his application to subdivide his land because it is making way for industrial projects, such as the proposed Energy East pipeline. Dennis Griffin owns 15 hectares near the area a marine terminal for the Energy East pipeline would go, if approved. He says the city is using his undeveloped land to maintain a required buffer zone around what is hoped will be a growing industrial zone.”

And Red Head resident Lynaya McKinley, who lives just three kilometres from the terminus of the proposed pipeline, says, “Energy East is just a plain bad idea. The risks are just too high. My community’s health would be put at risk by an inevitable spill, thousands of fishermen would be put at risk by a spill at the tanker loading site or in the Bay of Fundy and beyond, and the climate would be put at risk by this pipeline facilitating the rapid expansion of the Alberta tar sands.”

The crude oil from the 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline that would be stored in tanks before being exported on supertankers through the Bay of Fundy would emit volatile organic compounds, including cancer-causing benzene and toluene.

The situation faced by these residents is not dissimilar to the one faced by people in Houston, Texas on the Gulf of Mexico. A report says the air pollution levels in that city are “considered to be unacceptable by knowledgeable experts and the general public and are likely to cause air-pollution related health effects for Houston residents”. The sources of these pollutant levels include the emissions from some of the largest oil refineries in the United States. Yes Magazine has reported, “The playground in Manchester, a neighborhood on Houston’s east side, is empty much of the time. Children who play for too long here often start to cough. They go back inside, leaving an empty swing set in the shadow of a nearby oil refinery.” That community is fighting for clean air and is working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline delivering tar sands crude to area refineries.

The Council of Canadians opposes both the Energy East and Keystone XL pipelines and expresses its solidarity with people affected by oil refineries, storage facilities and export terminals.

Further reading
Smog concerns dog Irving refinery proposal (October 2006 CBC News report)