Montreal

Safety record of crude transport stressed at Energy East hearing

Transporting crude is safe and necessary to feed our need for oil, government agencies presenting at Quebec's public hearings into the Energy East pipeline said this afternoon.

Energy East pipeline hearing focuses on statistics and the need for crude

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada and The National Energy Board take part in the afternoon hearing of the Energy East pipeline. (Catou MacKinnon / CBC)

Transporting crude is safe and necessary to feed our need for oil, government agencies presenting at Quebec's public hearings into the Energy East pipeline said this afternoon. 

"We believe crude can be safely transported in all transport styles as long as proper precautions are taken," said Jean Laporte, chief operating officer of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

The second hearing into the Energy East pipeline started early this afternoon in Levis, Que. and included presentations from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the National Energy Board.

A third hearing on the "justification of the project" took place Tuesday night.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada looked at the safety statistics surrounding the transport of crude via pipeline, rail or ship.

Key points from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada:

  • Major accidents and spills are comparable between trains and pipelines.
  • The number of accidents and spills is much higher in the United States than in Canada.
  • Major train transport problems included the large derailment in Lac-Mégantic​.

Laporte said that accidents have gone down over the years, but that incidents have gone up.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada presented the number of accidents attributed to the transportation of petrol and gas during the BAPE hearings. On a separate chart the number of "incidents" are seen to go up. (CBC)

The National Energy Board's Marc-Andre Plouffe spoke next.

According to the NEB:

  • 39 per cent of energy consumption in Quebec is from crude.
  • Energy consumption is predicted to be stable until 2040.
  • Passenger vehicles and the transportation of merchandise led to petrol being the most used energy source in Quebec last year.
  • Gas is already being transported through Quebec by pipelines.
The trends of energy usage in Quebec shows that 39 per cent of energy comes from petroleum products. These trends are predicted to be stable until 2040 according to The National Energy Board. (CBC)

The presenters were asked why the pipeline is not going west instead of across the country to the Maritimes since that would mean it only has a third of the distance to travel.

Louis Bergeron from TransCanada Corp. said the crude was going east because that's where the refineries are and only 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline would need to be built.

Several dozen spills have been linked to oil transport in Canada the past 25 years. Most of those spills were less than 1,000 litres of oil. Seven were considered "major" with over a million litres spilled, Laporte said. 

Five years ago, an Enbridge spill took 17 hours to detect. 

TransCanada said that a spill would be detected and valves shut off in 10 minutes. 

The Quebec government filed an injunction that would force TransCanada to submit an impact study and undergo an evaluation before proceeding with its pipeline construction through Quebec.

​The hearings are being held by Quebec's environmental review agency, known as the Bureau des audiences publiques sur l'environment (BAPE) and are expected to last nine days. 

now