Energy East could spill 2.6 million litres of oil per day undetected: independent report

An independent study of TransCanada’s Energy East oil pipeline indicates that leaks as large as 2.6 million litres per day could go undetected. The study, commissioned by the MRC d’Autray- a municipal region in Quebec, states that the company’s leak detection system cannot detect leaks less than 1.5% of daily volume, according to the report by J. Harvey Consultant and ECOgestion-solutions.

The study raises concerns about the nature of the substance being pumped through the pipeline — diluted bitumen — a highly toxic substance that is extremely difficult to clean up once spilled.

The study also claims that response time to a spill would be double what TransCanada claims. While TransCanada estimates that there will be one spill every 58.8 years, experience with pipelines elsewhere reveals more frequent spills. The Keystone pipeline was predicted to leak once every seven years, but instead it leaked 12 times in the first year of its operation. According to the study’s author, this may be indicative of TransCanada, mainly a gas pipeline company, not having experience operating many oil pipelines.

The report recommends the municipality of D’Autray, home to many sensitive wetlands, require a system capable of detecting leaks under 1.5% and for TransCanada to install check valves in sloped areas to avoid drainage in a major breakage situation.

The Energy East oil pipeline would be the largest pipeline in North America with a daily volume of 1.1 million litres–nearly all of which would be destined for export at locations in Saint John, New Brunswick and Cacouna, Quebec.

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is concerned by this recent study of the volume of oil that the Energy East oil pipeline could spill undetected daily on top of the threat of a rupture spilling an estimated 1 million litres in ten minutes and what that could do to our picture province, rivers and streams, drinking water and Bay of Fundy.

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Conservation Council of New Brunswick /
Conseil de conservation du Nouveau-Brunswick
180 Saint John St.,
Fredericton, NB
E3B 4A9
Tel: 506 458-8747
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