Canadian Army expresses concerns over Energy East after NEB hearings begin

Garrison Petawawa in Ontario, which contains an existing TransCanada natural gas pipeline which would be converted to carry crude oil if Energy East is approved. Photo by Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

PETAWAWA, O.N. – After the National Energy Board began hearings on TransCanada Corporation’s proposed Energy East pipeline in Saint John, New Brunswick yesterday, it turns out that the Canadian Armed Forces have grave concerns about the proposed plan to ship crude oil from Alberta to Atlantic Canada.

Documents obtained by the CBC’s French-language service, Radio-Canada under an Access to Information request show that officials at the Canadian Army’s Garrison Petawawa have been demanding answers from TransCanada about a section of pipeline that passes through the base. The pipeline, which is already in place, is designed to transport liquid natural gas, but would be switched to carrying crude oil if Energy East goes ahead.

In a series of emails dating back to 2014, Garrison Petawawa’s hazmat officer Donald Megrath, laid out his concerns about a possible breach of the pipeline on the nearby Petawawa River. Those concerns have been reinforced after last month’s oil spill from a Husky Energy pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River.

TransCanada wrote a letter in April 2014 to answer a series of questions posed by defence officials about what sort of emergency planning they had carried out to respond to a spill along the pipeline, especially near water sources.

In the letter, the company assured the military that in the event of a breach, the pipeline can be shut down “within minutes.” The company also clarified that the pipeline would also pass within 600 metres of CFB North Bay, the heart of Canadian NORAD operations, and just 200 metres from CFB Suffield in Alberta, which is the largest military base in Canada.

TransCanada spokesperson Tim Duboyce says the questions raised by the military echo those of other groups and individuals who are concerned about pipeline safety. However, opponents of Energy East are not convinced.

The National Energy Board has until March 2018 to hand in its report to the federal government.

Story courtesy CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cfb-petawawa-energy-east-pipeline-1.3712472