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Energy East pipeline spill could take 10 years to clean up

An expert says that a spill from the Energy East pipeline could take up to ten years to clean up.

The Montreal Gazette reports, “Chantal Savaria, an engineer and geologist with Savaria Experts-Conseils, was going over possible scenarios before the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l’environment (BAPE), the provincial environmental review agency. ‘We’re talking between two to five years and maybe 10 years, depending on the type of contaminant, the depth of the groundwater and the type of geology affected’, Savaria said while adding such a spill would be much worse than a spill that only contaminates soil. ‘Decontaminating underground water is more complex than having to remove soil from a surface.'”

Quebec’s environmental review agency is currently holding hearings into the Energy East pipeline. The proposed pipeline would be 4,600 kilometres in length from Alberta to New Brunswick and would cross at least 90 watersheds and 961 waterways along its route. Many of those waterways are on First Nations’ treaty, traditional and unceded land.

Our report Energy East: Where Oil Meets Water estimates that the pipeline could spill more than one million litres (6,290 barrels) of crude oil, including diluted bitumen from the tar sands, in just 10 minutes. By comparison, the July 2010 spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan – the largest inland spill in the U.S. – spilled 3.8 million litres (23,901 barrels) of diluted bitumen over the course of 17 hours. The Kalamazoo spill demonstrated that diluted bitumen spilled in water can sink, making conventional cleanup efforts largely ineffective. More than five years later, and with over $1 billion spent, submerged oil still remains in the river.

The Energy East pipeline would cross the drinking water sources of millions of people. At points, the pipeline crosses waterways less than 20 kilometres away from communities that draw their drinking water from that waterway. A spill could have devastating effects on waterways flowing through cities such as Winnipeg, Ottawa and Quebec City.

For more on our campaign to stop the Energy East pipeline, please click here.