The proposals by Enbridge and TransCanada to transport tar sands bitumen via pipelines across the Algonquin to Adirondacks region threatens sensitive ecosystems and aquatic species
Two pipelines to carry tar sands bitumen have been proposed in the Algonquin to Adirondacks region. The “Line 9” pipeline cuts east-west across the A2A region parallel to the St. Lawrence River, intersecting every significant tributary on the Ontario side of the river. The “Energy East” pipeline cuts diagonally from northwest to southeast across the A2A region paralleling the Ottawa River, and intersects every major tributary on the Ontario side of the river.
From the recent record of oil spills and other mishaps related to pipelines in Canada (see CBC interactive map and database it is clear that spills will be inevitable and numerous over the coming years along these lengthy sections of pipeline. These spills will contaminate nearby tributaries as well as the St. Lawrence or Ottawa rivers. Ecosystems will be damaged or destroyed. In some cases these spills will be of catastrophic extent if the record of spills in other jurisdictions in recent years is any guide. Aquatic species will be compromised – of particular concern are species at risk such as the American Eel, Lake Sturgeon and most species of turtles.
Of grave concern are:
(a) the large and increasing number of oil spills and other pipeline safety incidents that have been reported in Canada over the past twelve years (CBC), indicating that on average an incidents are now occurring at a rate of 94 per year or 1 per 769 km of pipeline;
(b) the great age of the existing pipelines that are to be utilized, as older pipelines are prone to more spills;
(c) the large number of chemicals that are utilized in order to facilitate the movement of the bitumen in the pipeline, many of which are toxic to animal and human life;
(d) the recent gutting of environmental legislation and regulations at both the federal and provincial levels in order to facilitate pipeline approval;
(e) the gutting of the National Energy Board hearing process for assessing the impact of the pipelines, including the exclusions of the public from the process;
(f) the fact that tar sands bitumen tends to sink in water rather than floating on the surface, making cleanup extremely difficult if not impossible;
(g) the abysmal track record for cleaning up after spills have occurred;
(h) habitat fragmentation due to the construction of pipelines and access roads.
In addition, there is the fundamental concern that converting/constructing pipelines to carry tar sands bitumen will increase tar sands production and, hence, increase greenhouse gases and the rate of climate change, which are fundamental issues facing the planet at this time (see Fundamental Issues webpage).
CPAWS-OV position: CPAWS-OV opposes the reversal/construction of the two proposed eastern pipelines which would carry tar sands bitumen across the Algonquin to Adirondacks region. The proposed pipelines intersect numerous tributaries of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers as they cross the A2A region and the inevitable spills could cause catastrophic damage to sensitive ecosystems and aquatic species as described above. In addition the proposed pipelines will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of increase development of the tar sands as discussed on our Fundamental issues webpage.
a) Inform yourself on the two proposed pipeline projects and get out to rallies and events in your community.
b) Sign the Northern Ontario Petition
c) Sign The Council of Canadians Petition
d) Contact your local MP or MPP demanding the halt of both pipeline projects.
To learn more about our Algonquin to Adirondacks campaign see our A2A page
TransCanada Energy East Pipeline:
Detailed route through Ottawa via Ottawa Citizen
Line 9B Pipeline Reversal:
Where to go for more information:
The Council of Canadians
Tar Free 613 - Ecology Ottawa information
Natural Resources Defense Council report: Going in Reverse
Canada's History of Oil Pipeline Spills
CBC The Current:
TransCanada whistle blower raises safety concerns over Energy East
header photo by SkyTruth on flickr