Fredericton – The drinking water in Edmundston, Saint Leonard, Saint Anne de Madawaska, Grand Falls, Cambridge Narrows, Hampton, Fredericton and Saint John would be at risk from an Energy East pipeline spill. A detailed analysis of the proposed Energy East pipeline route shows that across Canada the project could lead to the contamination of crucial sources of drinking water not identified in TransCanada’s application.
“The pipeline threatens the drinking water of Edmundston,” says local resident Claudia Julien. “Access to drinking water is a human right. Our city and province have a duty to protect it.”
Along the entire route, over 5 million Canadians from Manitoba to Saint John rely on drinking water from sources within spill range and downstream of the Energy East pipeline. In New Brunswick, a number of these communities rely on groundwater from protected wellfields adjacent to the Saint John River. Energy East crosses key tributaries flowing into the Saint John River less than 30 kilometres upstream from these provincially designated Wellfield Protected Areas.
“The sheer size of the Energy East pipeline project means any spill threatens to be the largest Canada has seen,” says Mark D’Arcy, New Brunswick Energy East Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “I can hardly imagine how devastating a toxic tar sands diluted bitumen spill would be for one of our communities.”
If built, Energy East would carry tar sands diluted bitumen, which a recent report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says can create even greater environmental risks when spilled.
In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline spilled 3.8 million litres of diluted bitumen in the Kalamazoo River, which spread nearly 60 kilometres downstream. Cleanup efforts were complicated by submerged bitumen, requiring extensive dredging – a process that took years and cost more than $1 billion. Six years later, the river is still degraded as some submerged oil contamination remains.
“The proposed Energy East pipeline would border the designated protected Loch Lomond watershed outside the City of Saint John, as well as being close to the Latimore Lake city water reservoir, posing threats to the city’s drinking water supply in both cases,” says Dr. Paula Tippett, a resident of Loch Lomond.
The pipeline would cross the Mispec River about 3 kilometres from Latimore Lake, a drinking water source for Saint John. A spill there could devastate the water supply. In another location, the pipeline is on a hill just 3 kilometres outside the outer edge of the protected Loch Lomond watershed. A spill here could flow downhill towards the protected area, home to three Saint John drinking water lakes.
Energy East proposal by the numbers:
· Estimated numbers of Canadians living in the oil spill zone: 5,061,433
o Manitoba 676,613
o Ontario 1,040,788
o Quebec 3,213,353
o New Brunswick 130,679
· Total length of pipeline – 4,600 km
o 3,000 km – Converted old natural gas pipeline
o 1,600 km – New pipeline construction
· 1,100,000 barrels per day
· Water crossings – 2,963