St. Lazare demands pipeline reassurances from Enbridge and TransCanada
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
St. Lazare council adopted a resolution a the April 7 council meeting to pressure Enbridge to conduct hydrostatic tests on its 9B oil pipeline and to get TransCanada to reveal where its proposed Energy East pipeline will run through the municipality.
St. Lazare council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to pressure Enbridge to conduct hydrostatic tests on its 9B oil pipeline and to get TransCanada to reveal where its proposed Energy East pipeline will run through the municipality, during its public session on April 7. Mayor Robert Grimaudo said the council’s concern about the Enbridge pipeline is whether it’s structurally sound and able to withstand the flow and pressure of heavy crude oil being delivered from Western Canada to Montreal. He’s also concerned that the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada isn’t taking these concerns seriously.
“I asked the NEB whether they would do hydrostatic tests on the Enbridge 9B pipeline. I was told that hydrostatic tests put a lot of pressure on the pipeline and it’s not necessarily the best test to use. My subsequent question was ‘Isn’t that the kind of test you want to do because if it’s going to put undue pressure on the pipeline, I want to be sure that the pipeline can handle undue pressure.’ “The reality is we need assurances to ensure that the pipelines going through Vaudreuil-Soulanges are safe,” Grimaudo added.
“The NEB is the only body that can force the pipeline companies to act and we’re hoping they get them to do the testing that is required.” Even though the Enbridge pipeline will not run through St. Lazare, the impact of an oil spill in Ste. Justine de Newton, about 25 kilometers west of the town, would have devastating consequences on the region’s underground aquifers which supply potable water throughout the area, said Grimaudo.
“All of our water comes from underground sources,” he said. “If there was a spill and it gets into our waterways, it could affect us eventually. We’re all part of the same very large aquifer in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
“They also have to assume their social responsibility,” Grimaudo added. “If a spill happens near the Ottawa River along the 9B pipeline that crosses underneath it, that’s going to affect 2.3 million people on the Island of Montreal. We have to make sure these pipelines are safe. It’s scary and we need assurances.”
Grimaudo cited the massive oil spill from a pipeline operated by Enbridge that ruptured and contaminated a 40 kilometer stretch of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010 as the town’s impetus for demanding the hydrostatic testing of the 9B pipeline. In 2014, Enbridge was ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue its cleanup by dredging portions of the river to remove submerged oil and oil-contaminated sediment, one of the largest and costliest spills in U.S. history.
“What happened there is basically what is being proposed for the 9B pipeline,” said Grimaudo. “It’s the same type of pipeline. They’re changing the product that will flow through it, they’re reversing the flow and will increase the pressure. They’re kind of repeating the same mistake over again.”
The town’s concern about the TransCanada’s Energy East oil pipeline is because the company has not announced its proposed pipeline plans that will also transport heavy crude oil. “The question is whether they’re going to use their existing pipelines, whether they’ll build a new one or will they combine the two?” said Grimaudo.
“They’re not telling us. The problem I have with TransCanada is that they have an underground pipeline that comes right through St. Lazare. Does that mean that’s the one they’re going to use for this sector?
“If they do, that pipeline right now transports natural gas and is not designed for crude,” Grimaudo added. “I want to know if that’s what they’re planning to do or not, or whether they’ll build a new one on the servitude that already exists.” Grimaudo concedes it is safer to transport oil by pipeline than by rail tankers, but said the entire Vaudreuil-Soulanges region needs to be reassured that both Enbridge and TransCanada are taking the necessary measures to ensure the security of their pipelines to guarantee the safety of all residents.
“The pipelines have to be adequately built and meet certain specifications,” said Grimaudo. “The only power we have is the NEB to force the pipeline companies to follow these specifications and recommendations to satisfy our concerns. I would love somebody to say here’s your emergency measures plan, here’s how the pipeline will be constructed and these are the guarantees.
“I want to see concrete plans that will protect my citizens,” Grimaudo added. “And if there ever is a problem, here’s a deposit of $50 million to ensure you’ll have safe drinking water for one year after a disaster. This is not what I’m getting. The emergency management plan for Enbridge is a 1-800 number to Edmonton. I need to be satisfied that our questions have been answered and their security issues are covered.”