Skip to content

Thunder Bay chapter defends the watersheds of Lake Superior’s North Shore


A letter to the editor in the Chronicle Journal opposes the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline. The letter by Thunder Bay resident Scott Harris highlights, “Many local citizens’ groups voiced their concern for this plan when they strapped on snowshoes and ‘walked the (pipe)line’ last weekend, camping overnight in -25 degree windchill weather. First Nations, Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet, Council of Canadians, Environment North, Lakehead University students, and members of the public participated.”

Watershed concerns

“The dilbit would be pumped across the watersheds of Lake Superior’s North Shore, including the Nipigon River. A break in the line could dump millions of litres of dirty crude into the river, as shut-off valves are 30 kilometres apart. The downstream effects of such a spill would be catastrophic. There lies one of Canada’s premier spawning grounds for speckled trout, and the water supply for the towns of Nipigon, Lake Helen First Nation and Red Rock. As well, the newly-created Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, already an important part of our region’s effort to redirect our economy toward ecotourism, is situated at the river’s mouth.”

Pipelines spill

“Many will remember the Nipigon River landslide of 1990, when 300,000 cubic metres of earth slid into the river at a pipeline crossing above Lake Helen, leaving the pipe suspended above the riverbank. Had that pipe been carrying dilbit, and had it ruptured…! The ensuing Trow Consulting engineering study implicated the pipeline as one of the possible causes of the slide, and cited ‘significant environmental and economic impacts’. That pipe is another 24 years older now.”

Climate change

The letter concludes, “We know that increased pipeline capacity would enable expansion of the Alberta tarsands, already acknowledged worldwide as something that simply must not happen. At 1.1 million barrels per day, the Energy East pipeline would be bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline, create 30 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, and commit us to decades more usage of this dirtier form of fossil fuels.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation, and a local speaker will be in Thunder Bay to speak against the pipeline on April 9. For more information about that event, please click here.

Further reading
Thunder Bay chapter in 20-km trek against Energy East pipeline
Makadeh kiinehbic biinagohseh: A pipeline walk
Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet

Photos by Elysia Petrone. She comments, “Last weekend, a group of us snowshoed the section of the pipeline between the Black Sturgeon River and Nipigon River. Thanks to everyone who participated. Over the two days we deepened our connection to the land, the movement and each other.”