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Ontario energy minister has “significant concerns” about Energy East pipeline

Andrea Harden-Donahue at OEB event in Kanata

Council of Canadians energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue speaks at a recent OEB consultation in Kanata. Photo by Brent Patterson

Ontario energy minister Bob Chiarelli has expressed “significant concerns” about the Energy East pipeline.

The Toronto Sun reports, “In a wide-ranging speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade Tuesday, Chiarelli said there has been inadequate consultation with First Nations communities and the proposed route poses ‘unacceptable risk’ to ground water. Ontario also shares the view of Union Gas and Enbridge that turning a natural gas pipeline into an oil pipeline could hinder supply in the province and force up prices, he said.” Chiarelli says, “They’re significant concerns but they’re not only concerns that we have. The Ontario Energy Board has been doing very, very intensive consultations across the province with a lot of very credible intervenors in that process. And these are some of the issues that have been raised.”

The Council of Canadians intervened at the Ontario Energy Board consultations in Kanata and Thunder Bay to raise concerns about the impacts of the pipeline on climate change, waterways, First Nations, and local landowners. Allies have also intervened at the hearings in Kenora, Thunder Bay, Kapuskasing, Timmins, North Bay and Cornwall.

The Kanata Courier-Standard reported, “[TransCanada’s promise that it could remotely close the pipe’s valves 22 minutes after the first detection of a leak] was questioned by Andrea Harden-Donahue, an energy and climate justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians who was in the audience. ‘I think part of the problem is the reports that we’ve seen come out of the OEB were based on TransCanada’s application’, she said. ‘What we like to talk about is TransCanada’s track record in Canada.’ Referring to TransCanada reports of pipeline ruptures over the last few decades, Harden-Donahue said of the eight that she researched, ‘response time in terms of shutting down the gas supply ranged from 10 minutes to two-and-a-half hours to six hours in one case. We feel when you are examining the risks of this proposal, you really need to not just look at what is being promised, but look at (TransCanada’s) track record.'”

And the Vancouver Observer article on the OEB hearing in Kanata highlighted, “A recent water report by the Council of Canadians suggests that just one uncontrolled oil spill from the pipeline would release one million litres in 10 minutes. It further calculated that a spill at the Ontario Nipigon River Crossing could leak around 11 million litres because the valve station is 11.8 kilometres away. ‘The Energy East pipeline would cross some of Canada’s most precious waterways. From drinking water sources, to valued fishing, tourist and recreational waters, to a beluga habitat and the home of the world’s largest tides in the Bay of Fundy, these unique waterways would all be in danger from a pipeline or tanker spill’, the Council’s report stated.”

The reports commissioned by the Ontario Energy Board on the Energy East pipeline have found that:

  • TransCanada has inflated the promise of jobs

  • the local taxation to be generated from the pipeline is likely to be small

  • approximately 99 kilometres of the pipeline set for conversion is wrapped in polyethlene tape and susceptible to stress corrosion cracking

  • if leak detection and shut down happens perfectly, 22 minutes could elapse before pumping stops

  • TransCanada’s application is incomplete, only allowing a high level assessment until TransCanada submits more information

  • the company’s application with respect to 95 per cent of drinking water sources along the route is incomplete

  • there is a lack of detail on the impacts or mitigation plans for the converted pipeline crossing eight provincial parks, four conservation reserves and four conservation areas

  • TransCanada’s application lacks a detailed emergency response plan for spills on agricultural land.

Further reading
Council of Canadians at OEB hearing on Energy East pipeline this evening (January 2015 blog)
Thunder Bay chapter opposes Energy East at OEB hearings (January 2015 blog)