Environmental groups grilled TransCanada Corp. executives today as the National Energy Board opened nearly four months of hearings on the Energy East pipeline proposal. The 4,500 kilometer project would carry oilsands crude to refineries and export facilities in Atlantic Canada.
The groups including Nature Canada and the Sierra Club wanted details on the company’s plans to deal with an oil spill along the route. John Van der Put with TransCanada says the company is relying on a rapid response to emergencies anywhere along the pipeline. Van der Put says TransCanada aims to have field personnel on site within three hours and equipment within six hours of any spill. He says the company does site-specific planning to ensure those response targets can be met.
The National Energy Board will hold hearings in nine cities over the next four months, beginning in New Brunswick which as been the scene of fierce and sometimes violent opposition to oil and gas development in the past. In 2013, a protest against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick saw opponents throw Molotov cocktails at police cars.
In all 337 members of the public have requested an opportunity to speak to the hearings on the pipeline which has generated intense debate between those who see the project as vital for economic growth and others who oppose it on environmental grounds. The board must make a recommendation on the project to the federal government by mid-March 2018.