“No Thanks” to Energy East Pipeline in St. Norbert

Posted by on Sep 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on “No Thanks” to Energy East Pipeline in St. Norbert

At the end of October, Aurora Farm will have a 20-minute time slots to address the National Energy Board panel reviewing the Energy East Pipeline.  We applied for and got what they call “Intervenor” status. Unlike so many people who care, we will have a say in whether or not bitumen should be transported from Northern Alberta to the East Coast of Canada through a pipeline that is 40-60 years old.

The proposed pipeline in our neighbourhood is less than a kilometre away from Aurora Farm. This is the same pipeline that  many folks in St. Norbert witnessed exploding in 1996, taking two homes with it. The bank of the LaSalle river was too unstable for the pipeline and it ruptured. It still is. Trans Canada was given a weak slap on the wrist for that failure and told to self-monitor. No, we can’t get our hands on the reports. This was natural gas, not bitumen which is much more volatile with a deadly deadly smoke trail.

Thanks to The Council of Canadians – Winnipeg Chapter, a lawyer and a scientist, we are now part of a team that has come together to fight this pipeline coming through our neighbourhood and across our country. Of course, Canada will never meet it’s global commitments to curtail global warming unless the oil of the tar sands remains in the ground.

We won a small battle in the war against the National Energy Board this week. Two review board panelist members permanently recused themselves from their duties and the board must be reconstituted with members who do not have ties to the oil industry. One would think this to be a no-brainer. However, the list of omissions to the actual proposal by Energy East is much longer than that one issue. Here is the letter submitted to NEB by our lawyer Doug Tingey. Please have a read. Then copy and paste it to your Member of Parliament.  Terry Duguid is the MP for St. Norbert.

National Energy Board
517 10th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0A8 September 6, 2016

Attn: Sheri Young, Secretary of the Board

Dear Sirs/Ms:

Re: Energy East Pipeline Ltd. and TransCanada PipeLines Limited – Energy East Project and Asset Transfer, and Eastern Mainline Project (“Energy East”)
File No. OF-Fac-Oil-E266-2014-01 02
Hearing Order OH-002-2016
Comments on Transition Initiative Kenora (“TIK”) Motion for Members Gauthier and Mercier to recuse themselves from Energy East Panel (the “Motion”)

1. I represent four intervenors from Manitoba – Falcon Trail Resort, Dennis LeNeveu, Louise May and the Saint Norbert Arts Centre (the “Intervenors”). This letter contains their comments on the Motion.

2. The Intervenors support the Motion.

3. The Energy East Panel has made and will make decisions that affect the interests of participants and the Canadian public and some of the decisions are at the discretion of the Panel. The Intervenors believe that to be acceptable, decision making and the exercise of discretion are required to be free of bias and the apprehension of bias. The Intervenors note that the Motion sets out circumstances, facts and supporting law describing the basis for a reasonable apprehension of bias that pre-date the Panel’s completion determination accepting the Energy East application and the subsequent issuance of the Hearing Order.

4. The Intervenors have reviewed the Motion and the documents TIK has put into evidence through the Motion and have prepared these comments after spending a considerable amount of time reviewing the Energy East application and matters stemming from the Issue List. The Intervenors have a reasonable apprehension of bias with respect to Members Gauthier and Mercier.

5. The Intervenors have expressed interest in several of the issues set out in the Issues List and intend to participate in the processes available to intervenors as fully as possible recognizing that the Panel’s decision making and exercise of discretion impact on the ability of intervenors to participate, advance their views, interact in formal ways with the Applicant, the Panel and other participants and to present evidence. The Intervenors have after careful consideration of the Motion come to the conclusion that the existence of a reasonable apprehension of bias within the Panel disadvantages the Intervenors and calls into question their ability to participate in an impartial, fair and transparent process.

6. Topics of interest to the Intervenors that have been or may be affected by the Panel’s exercise of discretion include:
a. the Panel’s determination that the Energy East application was complete;
b. the Panel’s preparation and release of the Hearing Order defining the parameters of the review and its scope; and
c. various aspects of the CEAA 2012 review and the inclusion of environmental matters within the Panel’s determination of public interest.

7. The Intervenors are of the view that the Energy East application is not complete and are concerned that by exercising its discretion and declaring the application complete the Panel has put the onus on intervenors to identify and provide evidence and analysis regarding omissions that they are ill-equipped to deal with effectively. The Intervenors have identified the following matters that they feel have been omitted entirely or dealt with inadequately by the Applicant. The Intervenors are concerned that consideration of these and other matters may not be possible in an impartial, fair and transparent manner given the existence of a reasonable apprehension of bias:

a. Information and assessments regarding fish habitat, migratory game birds environmental effects and potential detriment to drinking water supplies following spills for Manitoba is largely missing. The Application only deals in detail with new build, specifically the Cromer lateral and the tunnel construction under the Assiniboine upstream of Portage Le Prairie, leaving out an assessment of these issues for the balance of the pipeline within Manitoba;
b. An oil spill analysis has been conducted only at the crossing of the pipeline and the Red River. Spill analysis for other water crossings of consequence in Manitoba has been omitted;
c. Slope stability, flotation, buoyancy other geotechnical issues for the conversion section of the pipeline;
d. The requirements and local plans for emergency evacuation have been omitted based on desk studies that toxic fumes from a spill are of short duration and limited spatial extent contrary to field experience from other spills such as on the Kalamazoo River where a voluntary three kilometre evacuation zone was established downstream of the spill. Evacuations were undertaken for spills in Abbotsford and Burnaby, B.C. and for Little Buffalo, Alberta;
e. The toxic effects of hydrogen sulphide from crude oil accepted for shipment (such as Husky heavy oil that spilt into the North Saskatchewan that contains up to 5000 ppm deadly toxic H2S) in inhibiting spill clean-up and endangering nearby populations has been omitted;
f. The stability of oil to prevent fouling, tariffs on the bromine number, p value and requirements for stability tests are not discussed which are particularly important for bitumen and heavy oils to be carried in the Energy East pipeline;
g. Sources of drinking water at risk in Manitoba from an oil spill have been omitted from analysis including the long stretches of the Winnipeg aqueduct that are in the same watershed as the pipeline and within a spill reach. Contaminated water is known to be able to infiltrate this almost one hundred year old aqueduct through numerous cracks and leaks. There is, for example, no acknowledgment and accompanying analysis by the Applicant that the rights-of-way of the aqueduct and the pipeline cross and east of the crossing share a boggy landscape;
h. The spill reach on the Red River is assumed to extend only 27 kilometres downstream which is contrary to experience on the Kalamazoo River where the spill reach was 50 kilometres downstream and the North Saskatchewan where the spill reach was over 500 kilometres;
i. The problem of detection and clean-up of spills under the ice and snow in winter has been given only cursory treatment;
j. The risk of rupture and ignition of oil product from an explosion of nearby gas lines in the same right of way as the Energy East line has been omitted. A smoke plume from such an oil fire could be more deadly than at Lac Megantic. No local emergency plans have been made for such an eventuality;
k. No thorough engineering analysis has been done of the blast damage zone expected for natural gas explosions for the various soil conditions along the corridor and the pipeline reinforcement mitigation required to withstand such a blast;
l. No consideration has been given to improved leak detection and spill prevention afforded by double walling with leak detection at designed collection points within the outer wall as required by federal legislation for underground storage tank pipes carrying refined oil products;
m. Risks associated with pipelines used to carry diluent required for dilbit destined for the Energy East pipeline is excluded from consideration;
n. No assessment has been done of toxic emissions from oil treatment plants at Lloydminster, Rainbow Lake and elsewhere that are required in the midstream supply chain of gathering lines (laterals) to remove sulphur and hydrogen sulphide for oil destined to the Energy East pipeline;
o. No assessment has been done of acid gas injection containing H2S recovered from oil destined for the Energy East pipeline or of the pipelines that carry the acid gas to injection sites some of which may cross provincial boundaries and would arguably fall under NEB jurisdiction;
p. There is no comprehensive consideration of the risks associated with hydrogen sulphide content of oil products to be carried in the line and in the Cromer lateral and the implications of sour service for such products as Husky heavy oil containing up to 5000 ppm H2S and other sour crudes such as thermally extracted dilbit. No information is given on the measurement of H2S in the line in accordance with clause 16 of CSA standard Z662;
q. No design temperature has been specified for the line and no mitigation measures have been documented for pipeline cooling to ensure design temperature is maintained;
r. No discussion exists in the application of inline leak detection methods and test and calibration plans as part of operating and maintenance procedures for leak detection in accordance with Annex E of the CSA standard Z662;
s. There is no analysis of H2S formation from thermal degradation of organic sulphide compounds in sour crude and dilbit in the pipeline. The Energy East application states that temperatures of 60 C could be reached in the conversion line segments in Northern Ontario well over the temperature where thermal degradation of sulphur in bitumen has been found to occur. There is no analysis of the maximum temperature that could occur in the pipeline. The Application states the natural gas temperature in the current lines reaches 50 C in summer. Oil being much more viscous than natural gas can be expected to be hotter from frictional heating;
t. No analysis has been given of remedial biocide inhibitors that should be added to the line to prevent formation of H2S from sulphate reducing bacteria that could be present in the line;
u. No comprehensive analysis has been made of over pressure protection required for an oil pipeline that is to be converted from carrying natural gas;
v. No information has been given on the fate of legacy of hundreds of hot tap installations that have welds that are susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion and valves that can leak and cannot be inspected by inline methods;
w. No information has been given to the fate of the legacy outer pipeline casings with surface events that can collect water causing internal corrosion in the numerous rail and road crossings of the converted line;
x. No justification has been given for not recoating the prairies line that has deteriorated asphalt or tar based coatings;
y. Overland flow and groundwater flow carrying dissolved or colloidal toxins from a spill has been largely discounted;
z. Spill clean up has been considered to be effective despite contrary evidence from the Kalamazoo and North Saskatchewan River spills and spill statistics from the U.S. show that on average only 40% of oil spill volume is recovered;
aa. Biodegration has been assumed to be effective in mitigating spill hazard despite evidence of the persistence of toxins from well studied oil spills in Bemidji and elsewhere and the millions of year duration of near surface bitumen deposits in the Alberta tarsands; and
bb. Field evidence that the limited biodegration that does occur in the presence of natural occurring iron and arsenic in the soil can lead to secondary mobilization of an arsenic plume has been omitted.
8. The Intervenors support the decision sought by TIK and set out in Paragraph 57 of the Motion.

Yours sincerely,

Douglas V. Tingey

CC Falcon Trails Resort, Dennis LeNevue, Louise May and St. Norbert Arts Centre

The panel reviewing the Energy East pipeline has recused itself in the wake of revelations uncovered in August by National Observer in a stunning move that also affects the role of the NEB’s chairman.