bitumen

What We May Never Know About Vancouver’s English Bay Oil Spill

Late Saturday afternoon, Transport Canada officially cleared the Marathassa to leave Canadian waters. As it slowly moves out of the Salish Sea, the bulk carrier leaves angry mayors, a combative coast guard, a distrustful public and many, many questions in its wake.

Even U.S. authorities are anxiously looking north wondering if Canada knows anything about marine oil spill response. 

What we know about this spill is important, but there’s a lot more we don’t know, and might never know, about what happened in English Bay.

TransCanada Confirms No Energy East Tanker Terminal in Cacouna, Quebec, Near Beluga Breeding Grounds

Beluga

TransCanada announced Thursday the company no longer plans to build an oil tanker terminal at the controversial site of Cacouna, Quebec, as part of its 1.1 million barrel-a-day Energy East oil pipeline project.

TransCanada will be advising the NEB (National Energy Board) that the company will not be proceeding with a marine terminal in Cacouna and is evaluating other options,” the Calgary-based pipeline company said in a press release. Cacouna was TransCanada's lone Quebec terminal.

TransCanada used the announcement as an opportunity to take a shot at Energy East’s critics. 

It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway, our decision was certainly not made because of opposition from some well-funded groups that want to deny Canadians the right to benefit from a reliable domestic supply of energy that ensures Canadians enjoy the quality of life they’ve come to expect in this country every day,” TransCanada states on its Energy East website.

B.C. Mayors Declare 'Non-Confidence' in NEB, Call on Feds to Halt Review of Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan Kinder Morgan

The mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, City of North Vancouver, Victoria, Squamish and Bowen Island have declared their “non-confidence” in the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and are calling on the federal government to put the current process on hold until a full public hearing process is re-instated.

It has become apparent that the NEB process does not constitute a ‘public hearing’ and is completely inadequate to assess the health and safety risks of a proposed pipeline through major metropolitan areas, and the potential risks of shipping bitumen oil to Burnaby and through Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, and along the coastline of British Columbia,” the mayors write in their declaration.

The mayors also call upon the Government of British Columbia to re-assert its role in environmental assessment and to establish a provincial process, including public hearings, to assess the Trans Mountain proposal.

Derailments Raise Questions About Volatility of Oilsands Diluted Bitumen

Oil train explosion in Gogama Ontario

When a CN train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire last weekend near Gogama, Ontario, it became the fifth loaded oil train to leave the tracks in North America in the past two months — and it's raising new questions about the volatility of diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands.

In the March 7th accident, several cars slid into the Mattagami River and ignited, leading local officials to issue a drinking water warning for the Mattagami First Nation.

The accident comes less than a month after another CN tanker train carrying crude derailed in the same region, about 200 kilometres north of Sudbury, spilling an estimated more than one million litres of diluted bitumen into local waterways. Twenty-nine cars left the tracks, causing an explosion that left fires burning for six days.

Treaty 3 First Nations Sign Declaration Against Transport of Bitumen in Territory Without Consent

A wall of First Nations opposition to the proposed Energy East oil pipeline is emerging in northwestern Ontario, where Treaty 3 Anishinaabe chiefs unanimously endorsed a declaration on crude shipments through their territory.

We are joined to Declare to our Nation, as the political leadership we are determined to ensure that no oil or bitumen shall be transported through Anishinaabe Aki without our full, prior and informed consent,” the eleven-point declaration signed on February 26th in Couchiching First Nation reads.

Much like the Save the Fraser Declaration, which galvanized First Nations opposition against the Northern Gateway pipeline in British Columbia, this document demonstrates Treaty 3 chiefs are also concerned about the risks of piping oil and oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen through their traditional territory and drinking water supply.

Water is sacred. Water is life,” Chief Fawn Wapioke of Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake #39 First Nation), a signatory of the declaration, said.

Over 1,800 Apply to Participate in Federal Review of Energy East Pipeline, Vast Majority Want to Discuss Climate

Energy East Pipeline climate NEB

By midnight March 3 the National Energy Board (NEB) received 1,801 applications from groups and individuals wishing to express their views on the proposed Energy East oil pipeline. At least 1,250 applicants indicated they want to comment on the impacts the west-to-east pipeline will have on climate change, according to environmental organization 350.org.

I have applied to intervene at the NEB hearing to talk about the impact of the proposed pipeline on greenhouse gas emissions because I think that it’s outrageous that impacts of the pipeline on climate would be deliberately excluded from the assessment process,” Danny Harvey, professor of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto said in a statement.

The NEB, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, has been clear it will not accept public comments on the climate impacts of TransCanada's Energy East pipeline. With the majority of applicants wanting to comment on this very issue, the NEB is now in a position where it may very well deny most applicants a voice in the regulatory review process.  

This speaks to Canadians wanting to talk about climate change and tar sands expansion at the federal level. There is nowhere else to go to talk about this stuff with the federal government,” Cam Fenton, Canadian Tar Sands Organizer with 350.org, told DeSmog Canada.

DFO Slams Kinder Morgan's Shoddy Analysis of Oil Tankers' Impact on Whales

Oil tanker, Kinder Morgan, Whale Habitat, humpback

A report submitted to the National Energy Board (NEB) by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) points to “insufficient information and analysis” in Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion proposal as it relates to whale populations off the coast of British Columbia.

There are deficiencies in both the assessment of potential effects resulting from ship strikes and exposure to underwater noise in the Trans Mountain Expansion Project Application documents,” the report says. “Ship strike is a threat of conservation concern, especially for…Fin Whales, Humpback Whales and other baleen whales.”

The report concludes that an increase in shipping intensity related to Kinder Morgan’s proposal would lead to an increase in threats to whale populations that occupy the Strait of Georgia and the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Energy East: Groups Demand Transparency On Proposed Export Terminal in Quebec

transcanada energy east st. lawrence beluga habitat

Environmental organizations are demanding TransCanada clarify immediately whether constructing a marine oil tanker terminal in Quebec is still part of the company’s Energy East oil pipeline project.

[TransCanada] should reconsider its positions and show more transparency by revealing its real intentions behind its project in Quebec. The company should stop showing disregard to Quebecers and give us the real facts,” Christian Simard, director of Nature Québec said in a statement.

Earlier this week the Montreal-based news outlet La Presse reported that several sources in the Quebec government had confirmed TransCanada is no longer considering Cacouna, a port on the St. Lawrence River, as the site of an export terminal for the 4,600 kilometre west-to-east proposed pipeline.

TransCanada quickly denied the report. The Calgary-based pipeline company insists it will make a decision on Cacouna at the end of March.

TransCanada Reportedly Abandons Plans for Energy East Export Terminal in Endangered Beluga Habitat

TransCanada appears to have dumped plans for constructing a marine oil tanker export terminal at the controversial location of Cacouna, Quebec, as part of its Energy East oil pipeline project.

Several sources in the Quebec government told Montreal-based newspaper La Presse TransCanada is abandoning its plans for Cacouna, on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, as the 1.1 million barrels-a-day pipeline project’s Quebec export terminal. A second terminal is proposed for Saint John, New Brunswick.

This is a great citizen victory,” Patrick Bonin, Climate and Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada in Montreal, said. Cacouna’s close proximity to the breeding grounds of the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whales has been at the centre of controversy around the proposed marine terminal in Quebec.

TransCanada denies its has given up on Cacouna. According to a TransCanada spokesperson, the Calgary-based pipeline company intends on making a decision on the Cacouna terminal at the end of March. Francois Poirier, president of the Energy East, made the same announcement last week.

Canada's Pipeline Review Process Broken But Still Important, Critics Say

The National Energy Board (NEB), Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, has come under tremendous public criticism over the last three years for limiting public participation in its review of major oil pipeline proposals. In recent years the board has denied hundreds of Canadians an opportunity to voice their concerns on projects like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and Enbridge’s Line 9.

TransCanada’s Energy East, Canada’s largest proposed oil pipeline, is the newest project to land on the NEB’s desk. Despite major barriers to participation in the public hearing process, Canadians are preparing to apply in droves, even if just for the opportunity to be officially rejected from the process.

We can’t sit back and we can’t afford the luxury of despair,” Donna Sinclair of North Bay, Ontario said. “We need to resist efforts to shut us out of the process.”

Sinclair, who was denied the opportunity to submit a letter of comment regarding the Line 9 pipeline project in 2013, plans on applying to participate in the NEB review process for Energy East.

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