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TransCanada to drill boreholes in Bay of Fundy for Energy East export terminal

Drilling in Bay of Fundy

Opposition is mounting as TransCanada is on the verge of drilling boreholes on the floor of the Bay of Fundy for its proposed Energy East export terminal in Saint John.

CBC explains, “The company is preparing to gather soil and rock samples through a series of test bores that will be undertaken from a rig mounted on a barge. The rig is currently being assembled on Port of Saint John property near the Diamond Jubilee cruise ship terminal. The test samples are required to complete engineering and design work for the company’s application to the National Energy Board for the proposed Energy East Pipeline marine terminal.”

The article adds, “[TransCanada spokesperson Tim] Duboyce said the $9-million drilling operation will take three weeks or longer depending on weather conditions and will make very little noise. No permits were required for the test bores, said Duboyce, although authorization was required for the use of the barge during drilling.” A National Observer article explains more specifically “TransCanada needs only one permit for the work, a permit from Transport Canada for moving the barge through navigable waters, Duboyce said. …A spokesperson for the National Energy Board said the permitting for the work TransCanada is carrying out does not fall within its jurisdiction.”

The National Observer then notes, “[The drilling] could interfere with endangered whales and migratory birds in the region. And area residents said they hadn’t been notified of the drilling.”

Impact on whales and migratory birds

That article highlights, “Mark D’Arcy, the Energy East campaigner with the Council of Canadians, …argues that the drilling creates a continuous noise that will be transmitted through dozens of kilometres of the Bay of Fundy. The noise could interfere with the area’s endangered population of North Atlantic right whales as well as the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds which use the route as a fly-way in the fall. …D’Arcy pointed out that the right whales are under the same species at risk designation as the beluga whales, which caused the problems for TransCanada at Cacouna [where TransCanada encountered stiff resistance to their plans to construct a marine terminal for the Energy East pipeline on the St. Lawrence River].”

Impact on home foundations and wells

That article also notes, “Besides concerns over noise, area residents worry that the vibrations of the drilling into the sea bed could impact home foundations and wells.” An open letter released yesterday signed by 22 local groups [including the Council of Canadians Saint John, Fredericton and Kent County chapters] says, “This procedure is invasive and has the potential to hurt resident’s foundations, drinking water, along with the natural environment that we all value and protect. Why are boreholes being drilled before this project is approved without consultation with residents and others affected?”

No free, prior and informed consent from First Nations

And the article highlights, “The proposed terminal site also is on unceded Wolastoq First Nations territory. Ron Tremblay of the Wolastoq Tribal Council said they’ve had very limited consultation with TransCanada to date.”

No prior notice

TransCanada contends, “We first made land owners located adjacent to the proposed Canaport site aware of this work back in mid-July.” But Ricochet reports, “The signatories [to the letter opposing the drilling] say they were only informed of the drilling plans by ‘a last-minute release of a letter from TransCanada on August 25’.” The National Observer adds, “The letter [from local groups] also expressed concern that the only notice of the work was given to five Red Head residents at a closed-door liaison meeting with TransCanada officials and with no details or time frame. The rest of the community learned of the work through the anonymous delivery of a six-page document to a Red Head resident.”

Our demand

Lynaya Astephen, a spokesperson for the Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association and a member of the Council of Canadians Saint John chapter, says, “We’re asking that the work be stopped. Some of us are still waiting to become intervenors through the National Energy Board, yet this work is being done beforehand.”

Further reading
The Right Whale and The Wrong Company (August 28 blog by Mark D’Arcy)
TransCanada drilling boreholes in Bay of Fundy before project is approved (August 27 media release)