TransCanada’s proposed 2,858-mile Energy East pipeline, which would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil across Canada daily, would traverse at least 90 watersheds and 961 waterways between Alberta and New Brunswick — including some protected by Indigenous treaty rights — raising the prospect of a devastating spill, warns a new report from the Council of Canadians.
The oil pipeline, which would be the largest of its kind in North America, would transport diluted bitumen, or “dilbit,” from tar sands fields in Alberta to export ports in Quebec and New Brunswick. TransCanada, which has been holding open houses in communities along the pipeline route, is expected to file its permit application for the $12-billion project later this month or next. As with Keystone XL and the Northern Gateway proposals, Energy East has met with significant opposition from environmentalists and First Nations people.
The Council of Canadians report, “” (pdf), estimates that Energy East could spill more than 264,000 gallons of crude oil, including diluted bitumen from the tar sands, in just 10 minutes. As spills in Michigan and Arkansas proved, cleaning up dilbit is very challenging. Four years after an Enbridge pipeline burst, sending more than one million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River, $1 billion has been spent on clean up — and 20 percent of the dilbit remains at the bottom of the river.
With that in mind, communities that stand to be affected by Energy East — which involves both the conversion of an existing, 1970s-era natural gas pipeline as well as construction of new sections of pipeline, facilities, and tank terminals — should have the right to say “no,” the Council of Canadians claims.
“It simply is not worth the risk,” Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said in a statement. “The sheer volume of oil – one million barrels a day – that will go through Energy East is enormous. This means that when the pipeline spills, it will seriously endanger our water sources.”
Calling on municipalities and provincial governments along the pipeline path to commission independent scientific analyses to evaluate the threat of a diluted bitumen spill in their areas, the Council of Canadians cautions against placing too much faith in either industry or federal government regulators:
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT