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Irving Oil its own worst enemy in pushing for Energy East pipeline project

The Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. Photo by Christinne Muschi.

Fredericton-based Council of Canadians campaigner Mark D’Arcy says Irving Oil is its own worst enemy.

The National Observer reports, “[Arthur Irving] controls Irving Oil Ltd., the dominant energy company on Canada’s east coast and New England. Aged 85, with a fortune valued at (US) $5.3-billion (and on Forbes’ list of richest billionaires in the world at #308), Arthur is often considered the most mercurial of [the founder of the Irving corporate empire Kenneth Colin (KC) Irving’s] three boys. One book author referred to Arthur as ‘so tightly wound, you fear he is going to explode’ and that ‘he seethes nervous energy’. …As chairman and largest shareholder of Irving Oil, Arthur’s combative personality is underscored by his bitter falling out with Kenneth, his oldest son and the company’s former CEO – along with some of Kenneth’s successors.”

The article continues, “Irving Oil’s environmental and corporate citizenry track record is also generating critics – just as the company is being thrust into the national limelight because of TransCanada Corp’s Energy East project… Yet Mark D’Arcy, a campaigner with the Council of Canadians in Fredericton, says Irving Oil seems blithely unaware of mounting opposition to Energy East and the hurdles it faces to see the pipeline realized.”

D’Arcy says, “I think they are their own worst enemy. They have to sit down and talk to indigenous people along the pipeline route and have to sit down and come up with an alternative plan for the rural communities that are impacted by water and air pollution. And they simply haven’t done that. We’re sick and tired of asking for true public meetings where the audience can ask questions of these large resource companies and we’ve been refused at every opportunity.”

The article also notes, “To pave the way for Energy East, the company wants to build another tank farm in Saint John to hold six to eight million gallons of oil (which is in addition to the tank farm they already own) and a $400-million deep-water marine terminal [that would berth 281 tankers a year].”

D’Arcy comments, “(Irving Oil) will own the marine terminal. They also own the land where the tank farm will be built.”

And the article highlights, “[Opponents of the Energy East pipeline] fear the consequences of oil spills in the Bay of Fundy – considered one of the most pristine natural habitats for marine life in the world.”

Here, D’Arcy notes, “There is already a very large opposition to building a tank farm and marine terminal in the existing rural population.”

To read the full feature article “Turmoil at Irving Oil”, which highlights that the Energy East pipeline was the brainchild of Irving Oil, as well as concerns about the 376 tonnes of carcinogenic volatile organic compounds that were released by the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John in 2014, the vapor recovery equipment at the Irving Oil’s marine terminal that was shut 37 per cent of the time between December 2012 and March 2015 due to mechanical problems, that Irving Oil’s refinery has spewed an excessive amount of ash-like catalyst of sand and metal compounds into Saint John at least a dozen times since 2010, and that lung cancer rates in Saint John are 40 to 50 per cent higher than in Fredericton and Moncton, please click here.

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