City of Saint John should take the lead on public safety, not TransCanada

Groups & landowners want the City of Saint John, not TransCanada, be the lead on public safety and emergency planning.

An upcoming trade-show style Open House on 'Safety and Emergency Response' by TransCanada is the last straw for worried community groups and landowners in the greater Saint John area.  They are speaking out to say that they deserve public safety and emergency planning to be conducted by the City of Saint John, not the proponents of this huge tar sands pipeline project.

A video conference was held Wednesday, November 4th to present their open letter to Saint John Mayor and Council asking that the CIty of Saint John to take the lead on the necessary studies.  

"Our concerns are not being answered by TransCanada," says Leanne Sutton, Chair of the Red Head Anthony's Cove Preservation Association. "So right now we are asking that the Mayor and Council put into place some studies to show us, or prove to us, that we are going to be safe out there if this goes through, and that we are not going to be put at additional risk nor are our first responders, fireman, or police officers going to be put at risk." 

Their concerns are warranted.  TransCanada's plans call for a 42-inch diameter export tar sands pipeline, at least 18 massive storage tanks holding close to 8 million barrels of oil and bitumen to be located right in the middle of the residential community of Red Head, and a marine terminal for up to 290 supertankers trips/year crossing the Bay of Fundy to export the oil and bitumen to foreign markets.

"I have been denied twice to attend their so-called Community Liaison Committee. As an affected landowner I find that very strange they don't want to talk to the landowner," says Colin Seeley, whose property would be crossed by the proposed pipeline.  "It appears to me that there is little or no co-ordination between the emergency agencies such as the police, fire, ambulance, emergency response, etc. that would be able to rally in any kind of meaningful way should an event occur.  I would like to see some sort of community plan put together that addresses these issues."

"That's why we are pushing for and supporting this letter to the City, asking them to ask the appropriate questions, to start pushing the proponent TransCanada to disclose their plans, and for the City to put forth requirements to make sure that TransCanada meet at least basis, if not exemplary, high quality standards for the safety and health of residents in Red Head and Anthony's Cove, and for the rest of the City," says Joel Butler, citizen member with the Council of Canadians - Saint John chapter.  "Because we know that the scale of oil, of bitumen storage, and flow through the city, is going to be beyond anything we have seen in this country.  It's time for the City to step up to start doing their job and fulfill their duty of care for the people who elected them."

"Things have to change," says David Thompson, consultant and retired Fundy Baykeeper. "There has to be things done which aren't being done and what that means is to hold public meetings - town hall meetings - not one-on-one situations and open houses where an individual talks to someone at a kiosk and we see some information. But we need real town hall meetings here in this community.  And It's about time that this happens. It happens elsewhere in North America.  It seems that we are in a ghetto of industrialization and the way it goes ahead in Saint John, New Brunswick here.  And that must change."  

“TransCanada has not gained the trust of people in New Brunswick,” says Mark D’Arcy, NB Energy East campaigner for Council of Canadians. “They prefer to keep people and communities isolated and uninformed about the details of their projects.  Many affected communities in New Brunswick don’t even know the route of the tar sands pipeline, and that it is proposed to run beside their rivers and bays.”

Over 280 waterways in New Brunswick are crossed by the proposed route of the Energy East pipeline, including the largest freshwater watersheds in Atlantic Canada.  Up to 90% of the oil and tar sands bitumen is destined for export, to be shipped by supertankers through the Bay of Fundy.

"If we were to have a spill out in Red Head Anthony's Cove, Anthony's Cove is one road, there is no way out for those people.  And that would go out into the Bay of Fundy, with over 60% of it staying in the Bay of Fundy, because they would not be able to take it up from the bottom of the bay, which bitumen would do is sink.  So we need the City to step up their game, immediately."