TransCanada meets with North Gower residents over pipeline plan
TransCanada is holding an open house at the North Gower recreation centre this evening to answer more questions and hear residents' concerns about its controversial proposed Energy East pipeline.
The pipeline would cross the Rideau River at the Baxter Conservation Area, not far from where the meeting was being held.
The company held a first information session in October 2013 in Stittsville, on the western edge of the City of Ottawa, which is also on the pipeline's route.
"We have more precise information," said TransCanada spokesperson Philippe Cannon of the intervening six months. "And the questions that come from the public are more precise also."
Residents have environmental concerns
Ben Powless, of Ecology Ottawa, said he is becoming more resolute in his opposition to the project as the months go by. He said he has less faith in the company's safety record since a recent National Energy Board audit, and doesn't necessarily believe what the company says.
His key concern is the possibility of an oil leak into the Ottawa River.
"If it got into there, that's basically the drinking water supply for everybody who lives in the city," said Powless. "The Rideau River also supplies a lot of sources of groundwater."
TransCanada spends one billion dollars a year on its pipeline safety program, said company spokesperson Cannon, who adds that pipelines are the safest way to move large quantities of oil.
He adds that the company takes special measures in its pipelines near important waterways.
"For example, we use thicker-walled pipes. We place extra sensors. The pipelines are monitored 24/7 from our control centre in Calgary," said Cannon. "The system can be shut off in a matter of minutes."
Cannon said TransCanada does not want to see a rupture happen.
"We'll invest $12 billion in this project and we're not going to cut corners on security."
Conservation authority not taking position on project
Within Ottawa's municipal boundaries, TransCanada's natural gas pipeline traverses the Rideau River at the Baxter Conservation Area, owned by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
General Manager Sommer Casgrain-Robertson said her agency has no expertise in pipelines and would not take a position on whether TransCanada's project should or should not proceed.
But, it would be compiling information for the National Energy Board to consider about sensitive areas within the Rideau River watershed that are along the pipeline route.
"Along that route it does cross through some floodplain. It is crossing under the Rideau River. It is going through some wetland areas. It's also travelling through an area where it runs close to a few municipal wells and it's also in an area where a lot of people are on private wells. So they do have to take into consideration the potential consequences if there were to be a spill or a leak," she said.
TransCanada submitted a project description to the National Energy Board on March 4, 2014, and plans to file its main application in mid-2014 for regulatory approval.
The 4,600-kilometre pipeline would carry 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day, which is underpinned by contracts for 900,000 of those barrels for a 20-year period, said Cannon, adding the company's hope is to have the Energy East pipeline in operation by 2018.