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Ontario Energy Board report echoes national concerns

The Council of Canadians welcomes today's release by the Ontario Energy Board of its report, Giving Ontarians a Voice on Energy East.

"It is no surprise that protecting waterways from the risk of a massive pipeline spill is a key concern of Ontarians," says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. "The sheer size of the proposed Energy East pipeline means a spill threatens to be the largest Canada has ever seen. This pipeline would cross critical drinking water sources. At a time of crisis for both our climate and our water, this project simply isn't worth the risk."

Among other things, the Ontario Energy Board report:

·        Identifies the risks posed to waterways as a central concern raised by the over 10,000 people that participated in the consultation.

·        Suggests re-routing around environmentally sensitive areas and highlights a number of waterways of particular concern. 

·        Recommends that the National Energy Board hearings include a full review of TransCanada's pipeline safety track record, a key recommendation of the Council of Canadians’ submission to the Ontario Minister of Energy.

·        Finds several locations where polyethylene tape was used on the existing pipeline proposed for conversion. [Council of Canadians: This was the key cause of the Kalamazoo river spill in Michigan, at 3.3 million litres the largest and costliest inland oil spill in US history.]

·        Highlights the lack of respect accorded to Ontario's First Nation and Métis communities regarding treaty and Aboriginal rights.

·        Acknowledges that the risk of pipeline spills and environmental damage outweighs the short term economic benefits.

"TransCanada has a questionable pipeline safety track record. Two former employees, now whistleblowers, have raised serious concerns about company practices including meeting safety codes,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Campaigner for the Council of Canadians. “Most of its spills in Canada were found by people, not the leak detection system implemented by TransCanada claims – a key selling feature to communities. One spill on its mainline system was not fully shut down for over seven hours. The prospect of a diluted bitumen spill of this magnitude in an Ontario waterway is unfathomable.”

While the report confirms ongoing concerns, the OEB unfortunately underestimates the serious climate pollution consequences of filling the Energy East pipeline. Doing so would unleash enough pollution to undo the good done by phasing out coal in Ontario. This was a key message that emerged during OEB consultations and the subject of many submissions, including by the Council of Canadians. It is a key point of contention heading into the National Energy Board hearings where the NEB, despite receiving over 100,000 messages, continues to refuse to consider upstream climate pollution risks. 

Ontario Energy Board report: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/oeb/_Documents/Documents/energyeast_finalreport_EN_20150813.pdf

Council of Canadians submission to Ontario Minister of Energy: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/html/oebenergyeast/resources.cfm#.VczHrcZViko