The Council of Canadians Saint John chapter joined with allies late last year to call on Saint John city council "to take a leadership role in safety and emergency planning for the proposed Energy East pipeline, tank farm, and marine terminal".
Their letter, dated Nov. 4, 2015, stated, "The importance of local and provincial government involvement in safety and emergency planning cannot be overstated, especially in the face of serious and life-threatening consequences. It is critical that government study, prepare, and cost out safety and emergency preparedness plans, especially as they operate and administer many of the fire, hospital, and coast guard services that would have to be in place in the event of a spill, fire, and/or explosion of tar sands bitumen pipelines, tank farm, and supertankers."
Some of the questions posed by the Saint John chapter, Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association, Citizens Coalition For Clean Air, a directly-affect landowner and our New Brunswick Energy East campaigner Mark D'Arcy included:
- Is the proposed location of the tank farm too close to the residential community of Red Head? Will this put both firefighters and residents at greater risk and in harm's way?
- How will first responders be able to quickly evacuate the population of Anthony’s Cove Road – with only one way out - in the event of a spill or fire at the Red Head tank farm or marine terminal?
- How much money will there be for compensation of fisherman, whale-watch operators, and other tourism employees directly affected by an oil spill?
Today, CBC reports, "Saint John is asking TransCanada Corp. for details on how much Energy East oil would be refined in the city and how much in annual property taxes the company expects to pay if the proposed pipeline is constructed. The questions are among dozens delving into the potential economic benefits, and the environmental, social and public safety implications of the proposed Energy East pipeline, its tank farm and marine export terminal. ...Other questions ask the company to describe how local suppliers and workers will be included, how the Bay of Fundy and the city's surface water supply will be protected and how drinking water wells near the marine terminal will be safeguarded."
While it's encouraging to see the city ask question about how their water supply will be protected, Mayor Mel Norton says, "These questions allow us to have [a] conversation, answer the many questions that we as council have, that our staff have, folks in the community have with a view to answering those questions. And certainly my desire and my belief is that at the end of this process we're going to have an opportunity to completely and unreservedly support the project." In Nov. 2014, Saint John city council voted to give conditional support to the Energy East pipeline project.
That said, municipal elections will take place in New Brunswick on May 9. The Council of Canadians is working within the Peace and Friendship Alliance to have an effective intervention against the proposed 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East pipeline at that time. At the Dec. 5, 2015 meeting of the Peace and Friendship Alliance, D'Arcy presented on the goal of electing progressive municipal councillors who would challenge the Energy East pipeline. One way to achieve that would be to organize all-candidates debates and raise questions about the pipeline, its impact on the land, water and climate, Indigenous rights and on landowners.
To read D'Arcy's blog on the letter to Saint John city council, please click here.
Groups & landowners want the City of Saint John, not TransCanada, to take the lead on public safety and emergency planning (Nov. 5, 2015)
Activists to challenge Energy East during May 2016 municipal elections in New Brunswick (Dec. 7, 2015)
By Brent Patterson