TransCanada Corporation ran into trouble last week when it presented its worst-case environmental scenario for its controversial Energy East pipeline at public hearings convened by Quebec’s Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).
In its simulation of a total pipeline rupture near the Etchemin River in eastern Quebec, TransCanada found it would take 2.5 to five hours “for an estimated 3.6 million litres of oil to reach the river and threaten water intakes for the municipalities of Lévis and Quebec City,” CBC reports. “The scenario led Joseph Zayed, who is presiding over the hearings, to question why TransCanada does not include watersheds that feed municipal water supplies and wells serving 15 people or less among its identified sensitive areas.”
During the hearing, a team of environmental consultants hired by the Montreal Metropolitan Community questioned TransCanada’s claim that it could respond to a pipeline spill within 13 minutes. “Even in that best-case scenario, between two and 10 million litres of oil could be released into the environment,” CBC writes, citing Chantal Savaria of Savaria Experts Environnement. “A 60-minute spill response, which was how long it took Enbridge to respond to a spill in Terrebonne in 2011, could see more than 16 million litres spill, depending on the interval between shut-off valves.”
The $15.9-billion Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels per day of diluted bitumen for the Alberta tar sands/oil sands to an export terminal (and, TransCanada claims, to domestic refiners) in St. John, New Brunswick.