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J.D. Irving Ltd. spokeswoman Mary Keith says cleanup should be completed by August. (CBC)

New Brunswick's Energy and Utilities Board will oversee the cleanup of an oil pipeline owned by J.D. Irving Ltd. that was recently discovered on the city's west side after being abandoned by the company decades ago.

The board is working with company representatives on a plan to clean up the "small amount of oil in" or around the old pipe, which stretches about two kilometres, said David Young, an analyst with the EUB.

"They will survey, look for any problems. If there are any issues, they will clean them up," said Young.

The cleanup is expected to be completed by August, when the city has roadwork planned in the area.

The line, which runs from Irving Pulp and Paper Limited, past the Reversing Falls Restaurant, along the upper river bank to the nearby port, was uncovered a few months ago during installation of a new sewer line on Riverview Drive as part of the Harbour cleanup program.

'When it became surplus and was no longer in use, that's roughly a 30-year timeframe where it hasn't been used, and we're now proceeding with the decommissioning.'—Mary Keith, J.D. Irving Ltd.

The eight-inch pipe, which dates back to the 1950s, was not in the city's records and there was initial confusion over why the line was there and who owned it, said Young.

J.D. Irving Ltd. would have stopped using the pipeline in the 1970s when it linked to a new line being built to serve the Coleson Cove Generating Station, as well as the pulp mill, vice-president of communications Mary Keith told CBC News.

Asked whether the company was aware of the old pipeline, Keith said: "We would have used the line decades ago, but when it became surplus and was no longer in use, that's roughly a 30-year timeframe where it hasn't been used, and we're now proceeding with the decommissioning."

"Obviously [any product remaining in the old pipeline] will be disposed on in an environmentally-responsible way," she said.

"We will do all of this in full compliance with the regulations and understanding the product in the line is part of that assessment we're going to do before we undertake the work."

Not aware of any other old lines

Within the next couple of weeks, independent pipeline experts will be going to the site to verify the location of the line, said Keith.

"This isn't an intrusive activity. They'll be using above-ground detection equipment and from there, we'll proceed with the development of the plan," she said.

"We'll be providing a further update to the neighbours once we have that plan completed and certainly we will be in contact with the owners of the properties."

Keith said the line runs under properties owned by the port, the Department of Transportation and city-owned right-of-ways on Riverview Drive.

Earlier this week, Saint John council agreed to give J.D. Irving staff access to seven city-owned properties so they could assess the pipeline.

J.D. Irving Ltd. is not aware of any other old lines that would have fed the various manufacturing operations, said Keith.

"The pulp mill certainly would be one of the older manufacturing sites that would have existed you know in terms of own manufacturing operations. So we're not aware of any other pipelines."