Tuesday, August 6, 2013 | Categories: Episodes
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling announced Aug, 1, 2013 that the company is moving forward with the 1.1 million barrel-per-day Energy East Pipeline project at a news conference in Calgary. (CP/Jeff McIntosh)
"Like the Canadian Pacific Railway, the TransCanada highway, and our own TransCanada mainline, this infrastructure was built to support East-West trade, support economic development and promote national security. This $12-billion dollar project will create thousands of jobs and bring new revenues and business opportunities to local communities. It will achieve all of this safety, and with minimal environmental impacts and with all private sector funds".Russ Girling, TransCanada CEO
Last week, TransCanada announced plans to move ahead with its Energy East pipeline project, which would carry bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to refineries and ports in eastern Canada. Political leaders from across the country are signing on. But there is one more step. In order to build the pipeline, TransCanada needs the approval of the National Energy Board ... and the NEB is busy finalizing a major audit of TransCanada's safety and compliance record on its other pipelines.
To discuss safety and accountability concerns as the NEB safety audit is awaiting results, we were joined by:
Evan Vokes, a quality assurance officer with TransCanada from 2007 to 2012. He was fired a week after he filed a formal complaint with the National Energy Board about TransCanada's safety practices.
Iain Colquhoun, the National Energy Board's Chief Engineer. He is part of the team that has just finished the audit of TransCanada, though the results won't be made public until at least this fall.
Craig Leonard, the New Brunswick's Minister of Energy and Mines. New Brunswick was an early supporter of the TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline project and sent public officials across the country to woo those with concerns.
The Current was in touch with officials at TransCanada about Mr. Vokes' allegations. No one from the company was available for an interview, but a spokesperson says the company takes his concerns seriously and TransCanada encourages its employees to err on the side of caution when it comes to safety concerns.
TransCanada also sent along this statement:
It makes absolutely no sense to cut corners or to build a sub-standard pipeline to save a few dollars. As a company we recognize that we can always make up lost dollars; it is much harder to restore the damage to our reputation and the environment if a catastrophic event occurs. That's why we take great exception to the claims by Mr. Vokes that we do not take safety and compliance issues seriously - our track record and the safety of our energy infrastructure network shows that we do.
The statement also points out that the National Energy Board's audit is not directly connected to the Energy East project and says the NEB will be given detailed information when it's time for the proposed pipeline to be evaluated.
This segment was produced by The Current's Jessica deMello and Vanessa Greco.
What do you think? Is the National Energy Board doing enough to ensure pipeline safety? Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And you can always write to us at PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6. And if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.