MRC demands TransCanada Pipeline deliver detailed plans
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
A resolution was unanimously adopted at the MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges council meeting last Wednesday evening, September 17 that requests TransCanada Pipeline to provide specific documentation regarding its plans to build a crude oil pipeline on its territory.
TransCanada Pipeline has been put on notice that unless it complies with a request from the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges to provide full disclosure regarding its plans for the new Energy East Pipeline, the MRC will not authorize any certificates or permits that would allow the project to proceed on its territory until the requested information is provided for analysis and review.
The demand was unanimously approved and adopted as an official resolution by the mayors of the 23 regional municipalities after MRC Deputy Executive Director Raymond Malo read aloud from a copy of a letter that stated the reasons why it’s imperative for TransCanada to comply with the MRC request.
The letter, dated July 17, said TransCanada Pipeline has failed to deliver specific information regarding its plans as to where the Energy East Pipeline will be located, the number of pumping stations that will be built to ensure the smooth flow of oil, or what emergency measures the company will put in place to deal with an oil leak or other emergency situations, said Malo.
The MRC is especially concerned about TransCanada Pipeline’s timeframe of three to four hours before it responds to an emergency situation and the fact that municipal public security and fire personnel have no specific training on how to deal with pipeline leaks and fires. The letter also questioned whether the company will be able to operate the new pipeline in a secure manner.
Malo said other important issues that have not been addressed include the potential negative environmental and economic impact the project could have on specific municipalities within the territory where the pipeline will be located, including lost revenue from land that will have to be ceded for construction. The high cost of cleaning up from an oil spill and possible damage to municipal infrastructure and waterways has also prompted the MRC to demand TransCanada Pipeline establish a contingency fund in order to keep taxpayers from having to shoulder any unexpected financial burdens in the future.
“Considering the inherent risks of the project, we ask you to create a contingency fund in the sum of $1 billion to cover all costs associated with a spill or leak, and subsequent costs related to the deterioration, breakage or destruction, in whole or in part, of any municipal infrastructure caused by work related to the pipeline,” said Malo. The letter describes the four meetings held between representatives of the MRC and TransCanada Pipelines since May 2013 as being “held in vain”, because the company failed to provide any of the requested documentation.
“The MRC works with written technical documents and your failure to cooperate with our request shows your disinterest towards the citizens of the region,” said Malo. “We expect TransCanada Pipelines to seriously consider the implications of having the pipeline on our territory and provide the requested documentation.” The Energy East Pipeline is a 4,600 kilometer pipeline that will send 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in eastern Canada, including Montreal and Quebec City. The exact route will only be determined after public and federal regulatory review.
The pipeline is expected to be fully operational by 2018. On its website, TransCanada Pipeline touts itself as being committed to “…engaging with all those who may be affected by the pipeline.” Prior to sending the project for review, the company pledged to conduct extensive engineering and environmental studies; consult with First Nations and Métis groups, landowners, communities, and municipal and provincial governments; and hold open houses and information sessions.