• John Jantak

FQM president calls on oil pipeline officials to disclose their safety strategy

JOHN JANTAK

MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges Prefect Jean Lalonde (left) and Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités (FQM) President Richard Lehoux met with reporters during a press conference January 22 to announce that the FQM will press Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines to provide full disclosure regarding oil pipeline safety and security.

Citing safety concerns for the Vaudreuil-Soulanges municipalities that will be affected by the eventual flow of oil through pipelines operated by Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines, Richard Lehoux, the President of the Fédération Québécoise des Municipalités (FQM), said his organization will continue to press both companies to provide full disclosure regarding pipeline safety and security.

Lehoux made the announcement during a press conference at the headquarters of the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges in Vaudreuil-Dorion during a brief stop in his tour of small Quebec municipalities last Thursday, January 22. The tour is meant to listen to the concerns and needs of regional MRC mayors from the FQM’s member municipalities and devise strategies on how best to address issues that are raised.

For Lehoux, one the major concerns for Vaudreuil-Soulanges is the lack of disclosure from bothenbridge and TransCanada Pipelines for failing to provide information on what safety measures will be put in place to deal with the possibility of an oil spill should it occur within one of the municipalities that the pipelines will run through.

“Our main concern is their refusal to disclose information regarding risk management and what plans they will have in place to deal with possibility of a pipeline leak or major oil spill,” said Lehoux, who is also the Mayor of St. Elzéar in the Beauce region of Quebec.

“It’s essential that these companies listen to our mayors’ concerns.” Lehoux is also concerned about the ever increasing amount of oil and other hazardous materials transported daily by rail tankers that travel through the territory by Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) Railways. He cited the catastrophic rail accident that devastated the Eastern Townships community of Lac-Mégantic in July 2013 when 74 tankers from a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train that transported volatile petroleum products derailed and exploded.

The blast and ensuing fire lasted two days and destroyed Lac-Mégantic’s downtown core and killed 47 residents. Lehoux said this is an extreme example as to why railway representatives should be more forthcoming in revealing their emergency strategies as well.

“These types of disasters do happen elsewhere and they certainly could occur in Vaudreuil-Soulanges,” said Lehoux. “Our residents need to be informed of what is being transported through their communities and what steps are in place to prevent a similar disaster from happening. The safety of residents must come first.”

Lehoux also called upon the federal government and the National Energy Board to show greater transparency by responding to requests from the FQM’s member municipalities to get Enbridge and TransCanada Pipelines to provide information that would help towns implement their own emergency disaster plans.

Jean Lalonde, MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges Prefect and Mayor of Très St. Rédempteur, shares Lehoux’s sentiments. Last September, the 23 mayors from the regional municipalities that comprise the MRC unanimously adopted a resolution at its monthly meeting calling on TransCanada Pipelines to provide full disclosure regarding its plans for the new Energy East Pipeline that will run through its territory.

The FQM represents 1,100 towns throughout Quebec with a population of 5,000 residents or less, with a total population base of over 3.8 million residents. Of the 23 Vaudreuil-Soulanges municipalities, 15 are FQM members.

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