On October 5th Ecology Ottawa and the Council of Canadians released a report that shows how Energy East is great risk to Gatineau and Ottawa drinking water. Click here to find the press release. You can find here a summary of the most important findings from the Savaria report:
1. Features of the proposed Energy East Pipeline Project
- Length: 4,500 km.
- Capacity: 174 million litres of oil per day – largest project of oil product transportation in Canada.
- Crosses the Rideau River just north of Kemptville, near the Baxter Conservation Area.
- Crosses the Mississippi River just north of Pakenham.
- Crosses 68 watercourses in the Rideau and Mississippi watersheds.
- Will transport 3 types of crude oils: conventional light crude oil, synthetic crude oil and diluted bitumen.
2. Threat to drinking water of an Energy East spill in the Rideau and Mississippi Rivers
- Ottawa and Gatineau surface water intakes are approximately 52 km downstream of pipeline crossing on the Rideau River.
- According to Savaria’s modelling, it would take about 48 hours for oil spilled in the river to reach the water intake sources.
- Ottawa and Gatineau surface water intakes are approximately 60 km downstream of the pipeline crossing on the Mississippi River.
- According to Savaria’s modelling, it would take about 60 hours for oil spilled in the river to reach the water intake sources.
- In comparison, the Husky spill in Saskatchewan travelled over 500 km and the Kalamazoo spill travelled approximately 60 km. Further comparison shows that drinking water sources for over 70,000 people were closed along the North Saskatchewan River for over a month.
- Data from other catastrophic spills shows that it has taken from 8 hours to 2 weeks to notice and react to spills, and that it was often done by visual confirmation rather than using technology.
- The pipeline crosses over the Oxford aquifer that many private well owners take their water from. The aquifer is shallow and vulnerable to potential oil spills in certain areas.
3.Direct impact of a spill in one of the rivers
- Impacts on aquatic ecosystems – e.g. death or injury to wildlife (birds, fish, amphibians, etc.), disruption of parts of aquatic lifecycles, disruption and death of flora, etc.
- Disruption or interruption of recreational activities – e.g. Beach closures, swimming, canoeing/kayaking/boat use, fishing
- Loss of economic activity – e.g. lower reputation of city/tourist sites, disruption of tourist sites (e.g. canal, beaches, conservation area, water sports, tour boats, etc.), etc.
- Oil or bitumen can spread to shore lines – e.g. impacting terrestrial fauna and flora.
- Can mix in the sediments at the bottom of the river – e.g. can make sediments unlivable or modify conditions for aquatic fauna/insects/plants that usually live there.
- Clean-up and intervention costs for a catastrophic spills can reach over $1 billion.
4. Potential quantity of oil spilled – catastrophic spill modelling (full pipeline rupture)
- Scenario 1 – Valves are shut within 13 minutes (TransCanada’s promise): 2 to 10 million litres of oil spilled.
- Scenario 2 – Valves are shut within 120 minutes: 15 to 23 million litres of oil spilled.
- These are extremely optimistic scenarios and take for granted that staff are properly trained and won’t make an error, that equipment works perfectly. In other cases of catastrophic spills, reaction time to shut down valves has been much higher than 120 minutes.
- Because this is a very large pipeline, even in these optimistic scenarios, quantities of oil spilled will be high.
- Valve placement will impact how much oil will spill.
5.Threat to water in the region
- A spill in the Mississippi river would reach the Ottawa river in about 14 hours (about 14 km distance).
- The pipeline goes through many wetlands including the Baxter Conservation Area (80 Ha) — A spill could cause irreversible damage on the ecosystem and could cost up to $250,000 per hectare to clean up, usually by replacing the wetland.
6. Case study #1 – Husky Energy oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River (July 2016)
- Estimated 250,000 litres of oil spilled.
- 14 hours passed before the company alterted the government and shut down its valves.
- Oil traveled over 500 km downstream.
7. Case study #2 – Enbridge Line 6b oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, Michigan (July 2010)
- Estimated 3.3 million litres of oil spilled.
- The company shut off valves after a fieldworker alerted the company of the spill 17 hours after the first alarm had gone off.
- Oil had spread 60 kilometers downstream.
- It cost Enbridge over $1.2 billion to clean up.
Ecology Ottawa and The Council of Canadians will be hosting a Town Hall on October 11th at the Ottawa Public Library, click here for more information.