More details needed on impact of Energy East...
Bookmark and Share
Jan 15, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

More details needed on impact of Energy East pipeline, report says

Special testing is recommended to assess the safety of the pipeline in parts of northwestern Ontario, according to a preliminary report


The Ontario Energy Board’s technical advisers need more information about the impact that TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline will have on drinking water sources, and special testing is recommended to assess the safety of the pipeline in parts of northwestern Ontario, according to a preliminary report.

The report, published online Wednesday, also says the economic benefits of the pipeline to the province are exaggerated and local benefits are expected to be small.

“The critical question is the incompleteness of the application,” said John McGrath a consultant with the OEB on the Energy East project.

TransCanada is expected to release more information and file additional documents with the National Energy Board, he added.

“But right now, the two technical reports on pipeline safety and environmental impact did not have enough information to assess if the application meets two of the six principles the (Ontario) government has adopted that we have the highest standards for pipeline safety.”

Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesperson, said more documents will be filed in the next few weeks. “Additional information will be provided from engineering reports that we are in the midst of preparing.”

The Energy East pipeline is TransCanada’s $12-billion dream in which it wants to convert its 40-year-old natural gas pipeline from Saskatchewan to Ontario to carry diluted bitumen. It wants to connect it with a new pipeline it plans to construct through Quebec to export terminals and refineries in New Brunswick.

TransCanada filed the application in late October.

One of the largest projects of its kind, it is already facing opposition, mostly in Ontario and Quebec.

The Ontario portion consists of about 1,930 kilometres of gas pipeline that will be converted and another 104 kilometres of new construction.

OEB’s technical advisers say that four sections in northwestern Ontario — about 99 kilometres in total length — are currently double-wrapped with polyethylene tape and hence susceptible to stress corrosion cracking. These sections are near the communities of Ignace, Martin, Nipigon and Jellicoe.

These four sections would not meet TransCanada’s current coating specifications for a new pipeline, the OEB’s advisers pointed out in the report.

The recommendation is that one of these sections be tested to see if the rest also need to go through the same test before the pipeline can carry oil, said McGrath.

Called hydrostatic testing, it would involve sending pressurized water through the pipeline and looking for any weak spots.

Duboyce said TransCanada is carrying out integrity checks on the entire length of the existing pipeline.

Among other things, the OEB report says that Energy East will add “minimal increase in Ontario’s total emissions.”

The pipeline would likely increase emissions from “well-to-tank” in the rest of Canada but the impact is likely to be relatively modest, it said.

Keith Stewart, the climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace, pointed out that the report assumes that emissions will happen anyway, even if the project doesn’t get the go-ahead.

The report admits that greater oil transport through this pipeline will increase emissions related to pipeline operation, but that it may reduce the amount of oil transported by rail, thus reducing emissions.

“The assumption they have made is that rail could replace Energy East and I just don’t think that is possible,” said Stewart.

The National Energy Board’s figures indicate that about 182,000 barrels of oil was transported for export by rail in the last quarter of 2014. Energy East, on the other hand, plans to move 1.1 million barrels of oil every day, he pointed out.

“That is almost impossible to be done through rail.”

Toronto Star

Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

In Your Neighbourhood Today