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Energy East pipeline may put at risk Winnipeg’s drinking water

The Dominion reports, “With Winnipeg’s drinking water under threat from a proposed crude oil pipeline, TransCanada’s consultation process is leaving residents and activists with more questions than answers. …Winnipeg-based environmental groups and members of Idle No More are concerned about how close the proposed (Energy East) pipeline will run to Shoal Lake, ON, the source of Winnipeg’s drinking water. A major concern raised by activists is the possibility of a spill so close to the water supply.”

“(An) open house (in September) in Kenora was staffed by over a dozen TransCanada employees and an Aboriginal relations firm. Staff answered questions and guided visitors through an exhibit, but were unable to provide concrete information about how close the pipeline will run to Shoal Lake. The exhibit’s detailed satellite maps of the pipeline’s path omitted the area west of Kenora to the Manitoba–Ontario border, where Shoal Lake lies. The non-profit advocacy group Council of Canadians lists Winnipeg and Shoal Lake #40 First Nation as being on or near the existing natural gas mainline.”

“Climate and energy campaigner for the Council of Canadians Maryam Adrangi pointed out that the natural gas pipeline that TransCanada plans to convert for shipping crude is an old pipeline that was originally constructed without the consent of affected communities. ‘Communities on the ground are still not given the right to ultimately say ‘no,’ even though they are the ones who would have to face the true costs of a pipeline rupture’, she wrote in an email to The Dominion. …Adrangi added that the pipeline enables the expansion of ‘an already dirty industry which is severely impacting communities living downstream’.”

“Red Lake, ON, resident Lawrence Angeconeb spoke to The Dominion in the parking lot while giving out leaflets. Angeconeb explained that if a leak were to occur in the existing natural gas pipeline, “the gas goes up, rather than down. With oil, if it ruptures, it goes down: into the soil, into the rivers.””

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “The Energy East pipeline would pose serious threats to local water supplies and communities along its route.” Beyond the concern about Winnipeg’s drinking water supply, concerns are emerging from other communities along the pipeline route:

At its source

“With the project gearing up to deliver up to 1.1 million barrels per day to refineries and export terminals in Quebec in late 2017 and New Brunswick in 2018, Alberta and Saskatchewan would get a new home for their growing production.” – Financial Post. Here, it’s good to remember that at least two First Nations – the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation – are pursuing legal challenges given tar sands production destroys their watersheds and violates their sovereign rights.

North Bay, ON

“The pipeline is located around several waterways in North Bay and Area, as well, Temagami, Sturgeon Falls and several other Northern communities. …Despite TransCanada’s promise(s)…, there’s been opposition. Last month about 75 people attended a presentation on the Energy East Pipeline project in North Bay… Several area residents spoke out against the project saying they’re worried about health effects and don’t want the public to be fooled with the promise of jobs.” – North Bay Nugget

Mattawa, ON

“Branching east from just north of the TransCanada pump station on Highway 11 North – approximately ten kilometers north of the junction of Highways 11 and 17 – the route for the Energy East proposed pipeline conversion crosses close to Four Mile Lake in the north end of the City of North Bay, and continues east through the Trout Lake watershed before approximately following the Mattawa River on to the Mattawa area.” – BayToday.ca

Ottawa, ON

“(The pipeline) could send as many as 850,000 barrels of crude oil a day through rural areas in the south end of Ottawa and across the Rideau River. …(It) will transport oil through environmentally sensitive lands around the Rideau River before passing through the waterway. …The pipeline’s proposed path would funnel crude oil through the region’s rural residential areas, many of which are dependent on wells for their drinking water.” – Ottawa Citizen

Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC

Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures mayor Marcel Corriveau has expressed his opposition given the pipeline would pass a few meters from residences along the St. Lawrence River. Laval University has refused to allow the proposed Energy East pipeline to cross the fields of its experimental farm in this community located just west of Quebec City, according to Le Soleil.

Rivière-du-Loup, QC

“A beluga whale habitat near Rivière-du-Loup may be in jeopardy if plans go ahead for the Energy East pipeline. TransCanada wants to build a pipeline to ship oil from Alberta to refineries in Eastern Canada (and export markets beyond) and put a port in Cacouna, just northeast of Rivière-du-Loup, to help get it there. But these plans put a port right in the middle of an at-risk beluga population.” – CBC

Edmunston, NB

“Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard had wanted assurances the route for the west-to-east pipeline would not harm his city’s watershed area and wouldn’t run close to residential neighbourhoods. …The company (now says they) will shift the pipeline over four kilometres away from its original route so that it runs about 20 kilometres north of Edmundston and 16 kilometres from the watershed area. …Simard says (he) will continue to seek assurances on other risks such as pipeline leaks and fire response before it takes a final position on the project.” – Canadian Press

Bay of Fundy

“(St. Andrew-based Matt) Abbott, who works with the NBCC Action, the advocacy arm of the New Brunswick Conservation Council, (says) the tanker traffic is already disrupting whales and other marine mammals, and a double or tripling of traffic will only make matters worse. He also worries about tanker accidents and pipeline spills into spawning rivers that feed the bay.” – The Globe and Mail

We will update this list as we hear of additional communities and concerns being raised about the pipeline threatening watersheds.

Further reading
Countering Energy East Pipeline Spin
TransCanada Energy East: Another Broken Pipeline Plan
Will your community be affected by the Energy East pipeline?