The proposed “Energy East” pipeline would be the largest oil pipeline in North America, and it could put us at risk of spills and even explosions. It would be larger than the controversial , TransCanada, Keystone XL pipeline.
Energy East would carry 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil a day, from Alberta to New Brunswick, through what some have called a Frankenstein-like network of old and new pipelines stretching 4,400 kms.
The proposed route runs close to Falcon Lake. The Falcon River drains from Falcon Lake to Shoal Lake, the source of Winnipeg drinking water. About 30% of the water input to Shoal Lake comes from the Falcon River. Concerns are emerging from other communities along the pipeline route, all of whom are at risk in the case of a spill. Many more communities in Manitoba are in far greater danger of having their drinking water contaminated like Rivers. Portage, Sioux Valley Kenton Starbuck, Sanford.
Five natural gas lines run parallel to the line for EE all most of the way across Manitoba from the border to Il des Chene The natural gas lines could blow up and rupture ignite the dilbit* causing a massive deadly toxic black smoke plume that could require the immediate evacuation of any nearby community including Winnipeg.
It is clear from past records and the fact the a 40 year old pipe with a recognized deteriorated asphalt coating is to be used, that the pipelines will fail regularly
Because of the large flow rate and time required for valve closure and the likelihood of discharge from the 30 km of dilbit contained in the pipeline between valve stations a spill as large or larger than occurred on the Kalamazoo River impacting 60 km of river is likely.
Around Winnipeg the area where the pipeline crosses is well drained and all drainage ends up in the Red River meaning that a spill in the Red River is likely.
A spill in the river would be impossible to completely clean up since dilbit sinks. This has been the experience in the Kalamazoo spill. This would result in permanent damage to the sport fishery and recreational and commercial activities on the River and result in substantial losses in property value and subsequent cost of litigation.
As occurred in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the initial phases of a spill toxic fumes are released from the surface slick on the river requiring evacuation of nearby homes and businesses.
There could be a very large death toll caused by such an explosion and fire. The destruction could be potentially much larger than the Lac Megantic disaster.
Long term ecological damage would result from a spill and fire. Toxins would get into the food chain and could be deposited on crop and grazing land from airborne releases and smoke plumes. Irrigation water could be impacted.
Dilbit contains up to 4% sulphur that will generate deadly toxic hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas in the line from thermal decomposition and microbial action. The H2S is corrosive and will increase the incidence of line failure and cause the escape of a deadly toxic gas cloud in the event of a spill.
During normal operation surge protection must be put into the line in the form of valves that automatically will vent gas accumulations including hydrogen sulphide exposing pipeline workers and nearby populations to risk from toxic fumes on a regular and random basis.
The spill liability for the pipeline is born by EE and not TransCanada. This is done to protect TC’s assets. and likely means that EE has insufficient assets to cover the cost of a large spill. The Kalamazoo River clean up so far has cost 1 billion dollars. Once the spill liability assets are exceeded, the taxpayer would bear the cost. This would include the province and the city of Winnipeg if the spill occurred there.
There is no evacuation plan or spill monitoring and clean up plan for Winnipeg or other potentially affected communities. This lack of preparedness increases the potential liability for a community. For instance it would be likely the responsibility of the province to measure concentration of airborne toxins to determine the need and extent of evacuation. A lack of execution or preparedness opens up potential liability. In fact there is a complete lack of awareness of the explosion hazard or even the airborne hazard from a spill that does not catch fire
Many communities draw their drinking water from surface water that could be contaminated by a pipeline spill including Kenton, Rivers, Sioux Valley, Brandon, Portage, Starbuck, Sanford, Selkirk, Neepawa. If these communities lose their water source the city of Winnipeg might be pressed into service to supply water.
Two valuable and fully used surface aquifers are crossed by the pipeline, the Assiniboine Delta Aquifer and the Sandilands Aquifer. Efforts were made to reroute the Keystone pipeline route in the US to protect the Oglala aquifer. We seem to be oblivious to the danger posed to our valuable aquifers.
Large bodies of water used for recreation and cottages could be permanently contaminated and rendered unusable such as Falcon Lake West Hawk Lake and Lake Wahtopanah
The Pope National Wildlife Management Area could be destroyed.
The 12 billion dollar investment in the line will commit us to the complete development of the tar sands resulting in enough carbon release to the atmosphere to destroy the climate.
Forty percent of the energy output from the proposed Keeyask dam could be used to pump the dilbit resulting in a carbon free energy source being used to generate more carbon
The EE east pipeline will commit us to the continued destructive used of fossil fuels preventing us from turning to renewable energy sources.
We’ve been hearing that the oil is for energy security in eastern Canada, but there is good reason to believe the goal is to get oil to the Atlantic for export. We can expect that the oil will go to the highest bidders, and industry is looking to Europe, India and China, as well as, the eastern U.S. And Gulf Coasts.
The EE pipeline will result in almost no benefit to the Manitoba economy and almost no jobs.
The entire process for the implementation of the pipeline undermines our democracy and underscores a system geared for the benefit of a powerful and wealth few and entrenches this unstable inequitable unjust society.
The tar sands are the fastest growing source of climate warming in Canada. Energy East depends on a reckless plan to triple the size of Alberta’s oil sands over the next two decades.
In 2012, the federal government gutted most of Canada’s long standing environmental laws and put up barriers to prevent citizens from having their say on big energy projects. As a result, Energy East will not go through a federal environmental assessment.
In 2011, the new phase of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline spilled 12 times. In one incident, a leak under pressure created a crude oil geyser six stories high. TransCanada boasts about its “world class safety standards”.
Energy East will not change how Canadians use oil. Domestic demand for oil is lower today than it was in 2005.
Canadian oil and gas extraction counts for only about three percent of Canada’s GDP.
* A dilbit is a bitumen diluted with one or more lighter petroleum products, typically natural-gas condensates such as naptha. Diluting bitumen makes it much easier to transport, for example in pipelines. Bitumen is not liquid, until these compounds are mixed into it.