bitumen

Benzene Gas from Kinder Morgan Bitumen Spill Could Endanger 1 Million Vancouverites, Hospitalize 31,000

The Economist says Vancouver is liveable, but boring. Clearly they haven’t read its latest evidence against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

As part of its final package of evidence in the NEB’s review of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker expansion, the City of Vancouver solicited expert testimony on how air quality would be impacted by a spill in Burrard Inlet.

The 53-page report prepared by Richmond-based Levelton Consultants has the same underlying thread of doom featured in much of Vancouver’s other evidence. The key difference? This time there’s a possible human body count.

Wildfires Rage Near Oilsands Operations, Raising Climate Questions

Forest fires covering 8,200 hectares of land in northern Alberta continue to burn out of control, spurred on by extremely dry conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures. The fires have forced the evacuation of hundreds of oilsands workers, the irony of which is not being lost on many  (just check out the reactions to this CBC article).

Climate change during the 21st century is expected to result in more frequent fires in many boreal forests, with severe environmental and economic consequences,” said a 2014 Natural Resources Canada post

About 10 per cent of Canada’s oil output — amounting to about 233,000 barrels a day — has been shut down since Monday, May 25, due to the fires. The Bank of America Merril Lynch warned in a research report that if wildfire disruptions persist, there could be a 0.1 to 0.3 per cent hit to second-quarter annualized growth.

An increase in the number of forest fires is likely to make one of the world’s most costly fossil fuel sources even more labour intensive and expensive.

Groups Want Pipeline Regulator to Explain Why it Won't Order Safety Test of Enbridge's Line 9

Environmental and citizen groups in Quebec are demanding the National Energy Board (NEB) explain why it refuses to order a hydrostatic safety test of Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline, a west-to-east oil pipeline that could come online as early as next month.

A hydrostatic test or hydrotest is a commonly used method to determine whether a pipeline can operate safely at its maximum operating pressure. The test involves pumping water at through the pipeline at levels higher than average operating pressures. Enbridge is reversing the flow of the 39-year old Line 9 pipeline, which previously carried imported oil inland from Canada's east coast, and will increase its capacity from 240,000 to 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

[The NEB] claims to be transparent and to listen to what the public is saying, yet despite having all the required information in their possession for over six months, it refuses to render a written and reasoned decision on whether or not it will impose hydrostatic tests on the length of Line 9B,” Lorraine Caron, spokesperson for the citizen group Citoyens au Courant, said.

When the NEB, Canada’s federal pipeline regulator, approved the Enbridge pipeline project in March 2014, the board stated it could order a hydrostatic test of Line 9 if it felt the integrity of the 39-year old pipeline was in question. So far the board has chosen not to exercise this option and has said very little as to why.

Refusing to make a decision public means the NEB wants to keep the public in a state of ignorance. This only contributes to diminishing public confidence in the NEB,” Steven Guilbeault, executive director of Equiterre, said.

Energy East Threatens Drinking Water for 850,000 Manitobans, Report Finds

Drinking water for more than 60 per cent of Manitoba's population will be put at risk by TransCanada's proposed Energy East pipeline, according to a report released Monday by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition. 

The entire length of the Winnipeg aqueduct is in danger of contamination from the nearby pipeline,” the report states. “Contamination could occur from large spills anywhere along the pipeline and from small, more frequent, undetected spills between Falcon Lake and Hadashville where the aqueduct and pipeline are very close.”

Retired biophysicist and author of the report, Dennis LeNeveu, announced his findings in Winnipeg, saying the city's aqueduct is at risk from the nearby pipeline. LeNeveu added it is not just Winnipeg’s drinking water that is threatened by the 1.1 million barrels a day Energy East project.   

The drinking water supplies in the province, as well as Winnipeg’s supply are at risk of contamination from the pipeline. Many communities draw their water from rivers that the pipeline directly crosses,” LeNeveu wrote in the report.  

“Winnipeg has much to lose from the pipeline crossing within its boundaries and little to gain.”

Manitobans in the Dark on Province's Energy East Position

Three Manitoba-based environmental groups — Manitoba Wildlands, Wilderness Committee, and Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition — held a press conference Thursday in Winnipeg demanding the Manitoba government “acknowledge the magnitude” of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline project, which would see oilsands (also called tar sands) bitumen shipped through the province. 

Does the Manitoba government have an agreement with TransCanada Energy East already? Or does Manitoba Hydro already have an agreement to provide this energy? Will the Manitoba government follow the lead of other provinces and review the climate impacts? There are so many unanswered questions,” Gaile Whelan-Enns, director of Manitoba Wildlands, said.

While Ontario and Quebec are conducting public consultations on the propsed west-to-east oil pipeline and have expressed some uneasiness with the project, Manitoba premier Greg Selinger has been accused of saying very little about Energy East.

Manitobans deserve to know where their government stands on this issue,” Whelan-Enns said.

Montreal Wants to Examine Safety of Line 9 With Hydrostatic Test

A Quebec citizen group is applauding a resolution by the Greater Montreal Area’s governing body asking the National Energy Board for a hydrostatic safety test of the Line 9 oil pipeline before it goes back into operation this summer.

We would like to thank the CMM (Greater Montreal Area) and its president, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, as well as the numerous other elected bodies that have listened to the concerns of the public, and acted swiftly on this safety issue by adopting similar resolutions and forwarding them to the NEB,” Lorraine Caron, a spokesperson for the citizen group Les Citoyens au Courant, said.

The governing body, better known as the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal or Montreal Metropolitan Community, passed the resolution in a meeting on April 30. Line 9, a 39-year old Enbridge pipeline, runs through a densely populated corridor from Montreal, through Toronto and on to Sarnia in southwestern Ontario.

Citizen groups, and environmental organizations in Ontario and Quebec have been voicing concerns for over two years on whether Line 9 — the twin in age and design of the Enbridge pipeline that ruptured in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010 — can operate safely at an increased capacity and while transporting oilsands (also called tar sands) 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.

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