Will residents of Fredericton get to ask TransCanada about the risk of an Energy East pipeline spill to their drinking water?
FREDERICTON - TransCanada refuses to hold a public meeting for the residents of Fredericton, yet the company is scheduled to meet Fredericton's business community for the second time in one year.
Kevin Maloney of TransCanada Pipeline, plans to give an early morning presentation to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce on March 17, 2015 at the Fredericton Convention Centre, from 8:00am to 9:00am. As TransCanada's Manager for New Build Pipeline – Ontario & New Brunswick, Mr. Maloney wants to update the business community on the progress of the Energy East Pipeline proposal.
This announcement comes only 2 weeks after the public learned that TransCanada sent a letter to the City of Fredericton refusing City Council's request to hold a public meeting for their citizens. Dated February 11, 2015, Patrick Lacroix, TransCanada's NB Project Manager for Energy East Project, explained his company's position in the letter, "Our focus remains on communities and landowners directly affected by the pipeline route.", intimating that Fredericton would not be directly affected by the pipeline.
The letter by TransCanada did not mention that the company is holding meetings with the business community in Fredericton. TransCanada's Philippe Cannon gave a presentation on the public safety and economic impacts of the proposed pipeline to the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Fredericton North Rotary Club and Mayor Brad Woodside on March 17, 2014.
This contradiction prompted several members of the Council of Canadians - Fredericton Chapter to call the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and ask for an open meeting. One of those members, Marzipan Trahms, explained, "It is unfair that TransCanada will meet with the business community of Fredericton but not the citizens of Fredericton. The optics are bad for building trust. I expressed my concern with Chamber President Joseph O'Donnell and he assured me that the public is welcome at this breakfast presentation."
Maggie Connell, co-chair of the Council of Canadians - Fredericton Chapter is very pleased with this turn of events, "The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is to be congratulated for opening up this meeting to the public. We look forward to TransCanada dealing with our concern about the risk to our city's drinking water supply in an open and genuine manner."
"Our question to TransCanada will be very straight-forward: Where will a spill in the Nashwaak River end up?" says Ms. Connell. "Will computer modelling be conducted to predict whether or not toxic chemicals from an oil spill would reach the base of the Nashwaak River, the critical location of windows into the Fredericton aquifer?"
Don McDonald, a resident of Stanley, was so concerned about the impact of a pipeline spill into his long-time fishing waterways, the Nashwaak River and the Southwest Miramichi River, that he applied a week ago to the National Energy Board to be an intervenor in the Energy East hearings. "The S Br SW Miramichi River, Taxis River, its tributaries, and Lake Brook flow into the SouthWest Miramichi River. McGivney Brook and Arnold Brook flow into the Cross Creek stream which flows into the Nashwaak River and on into the Saint John River."
Mr. McDonald stressed the high risk to Fredericton, "The proposed pipeline route crosses three tributaries leading into the Nashwaak River. The usually high flow rate of Cross Creek and the Nashwaak River means that a spill could happen in the middle of the night and only be detected in the morning when it has already reached Fredericton."
Don plans to attend the TransCanada presentation and ask the following, "How much can the pipeline spill before they know it, and how accurately can they identify where the leak is? These are the two prime questions about leaks. For example, we need to know what type of sensing equipment they will use and what will be the requirements for shut-off values at these water crossings? Can they be shut off automatically."
Elizabeth Hamilton, member of Council of Canadians - Fredericton Chapter sums up why their group is so concerned about this pipeline, "An independent study commissioned by a Quebec municipality found that Energy East leaks as large as 2.6 million litres per day could go undetected. And the diluted bitumen that TransCanada plans to pump through the pipeline is filled with cancer-causing chemicals and sinks to the bottom of waterways it enters."
"We have actual spills that prove our concerns are real," says Ms. Hamilton. "An estimated 3.8 million litres of diluted tar sands bitumen spilled into a 60-kilometre stretch of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in July 2010, forcing hundreds of residents from their homes. Even after 4 years of clean-up, at a cost of $1.3 billion dollars, there remains an estimated 600,000 litres of oil stuck to the bottom of the Kalamazoo River."
Ms. Hamilton concludes, "Our concern is for a large pipeline spill in the Nashwaak River that would reach all the way to Fredericton. We have to think first and foremost about protecting our drinking water."
Maggie Connell 506.459.8081
Marzipan Trahms 506.454.6410
LINK: Presentation Day - The Energy East Pipeline