New plans for the Energy East pipeline would more than double tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy and increase the amount of oil stored at the Saint John terminal by more than 5 million barrels, according to TransCanada's amended application to the National Energy Board.
The company filed the update to Canada's energy regulator on Thursday.
It comes after TransCanada announced last month it would not build a marine terminal in Quebec, as originally planned, after environmental concerns were raised.
The updated application says:
- The number of tankers in the Bay of Fundy would increase to 281 from 115 a year.
- The total storage capacity at the Saint John terminal would jump to 13.2 million barrels, from the initial 7.65 million barrel.
- There would be an extra four oil storage tanks at the terminal.
- The 22 oil storage tanks in total would be much larger, measuring 21 metres in height.
The proposed pipeline would carry Alberta crude to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.
TransCanada's updated application says 700 route changes will increase the total cost to $15.7 billion.
'Increases the risk of oil spills'
Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, says the extra flow of crude through New Brunswick and the ramped up capacity to export the oil out of Saint John is putting the province at risk.
"Increasing [tanker] traffic certainly increases the risk of oil spills," Abbott said.
The Fundy Baykeeper also says that increased tanker traffic would have dire effects on whales in the area.
"Even if there's not a catastrophic effect like an oil spill, we'll be significantly increasing the amount of noise that's being produced by tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy," said Abbott.
"And we know noise in the Bay of Fundy is already causing stress for whales, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale."
Tim Duboyce, a TransCanada spokesperson for the Energy East pipeline, says the company has run environmental impact studies and determined the expansion at the Saint John terminal and Canaport marine terminal will not pose a great risk to the environment.
"We've taken into account the increase in the scope of the tank terminal itself and what it means in terms of additional ship traffic ... and have arrived at the conclusion that we can proceed with this without having a negative material impact on wildlife, for example, in the Bay of Fundy," Duboyce said.
The Gallant government is focused on the economic benefits of the amended Energy East application.
"There's no doubt there's a lot more focused on New Brunswick," said Energy Minister Donald Arseneault.
"It's exciting news. It's over $3 billion in investment in New Brunswick, over 3300 jobs."