New Brunswick

Chipman mayor backs Energy East pipeline as rail traffic jumps

As protesters in Montreal shut down the National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline Monday, one New Brunswick village along the route is raising concerns about an increase of oil by rail.

Carson Atkinson estimates his village has seen roughly 50% more rail traffic carrying oil since 2014

Carson Atkinson, mayor of Chipman, says he's seen an increased number of trains running through the town carrying oil in the last two years, which he believes makes a compelling case for the energy east pipeline. (CBC)

As protesters in Montreal shut down the National Energy Board hearings on the Energy East pipeline Monday, the mayor of one New Brunswick village along the route is in favour of it, thanks to his concerns about an increase of oil by rail through his community.

Chipman Mayor Carson Atkinson says there have been more rail cars carrying oil at faster speeds on the CN line through the village since upgrades were completed two years ago.

"It was reported to me by a local contractor that the speed has been increased through Chipman and I understand that there are a large number of cars going through, up to a couple hundred at a time," said Atkinson.

"This community would be devastated if there was an incident with a massive derailment and oil going into the river system."

The rail line crosses the Salmon River, which runs through the village.

5 New Brunswick pump stations

TransCanada has proposed five pump stations for the Energy East pipeline in New Brunswick, including Saint-Léonard, Plaster Rock, Stanley, Cumberland Bay and Hampton. (CBC)

The possibility of a derailment is fuelling Atkinson's support for the pipeline and a pump station that would be built nearby at Cumberland Bay.

TransCanada is planning to build five pump stations in New Brunswick of the 70 along the route,which would help move oil from one point to the next and be used to shut down the flow in the case of a spill. 

The pipeline would carry oil from Alberta to Saint John.

The mayor said he believes the pump station would give the community more control over responding to an oil spill.

"It would be much less of an issue for us and more environmentally friendly as we see it," said Atkinson.

At the NEB hearings in Fredericton earlier this month, TransCanada officials said the company was working with emergency crews along the route and near the proposed pump stations to come up with emergency plans in the event of a spill.

Atkinson said the village is in talks with TransCanada about how much revenue and number of jobs the pump station would generate for the community.

CN responds

Jon Duffy says he lives 60 metres from the rail line, and he's been increasingly worried about a derailment.
Atkinson estimates there has been a 40 to 50 per cent increase in rail cars carrying oil since 2014.

In an e-mail to CBC News, Jim Feeny, the CN rail director of public affairs, said the number of rail cars and volumes carried vary according to customer demand, but speed limits have been consistent.

"Speed limits on the CN line through Chipman remain unchanged, at 40 miles per hour, since the rail and track work  performed in 2014," said Feeny.

But Jon Duffy, a Chipman resident whose home backs on to the rail line, said he agrees with the mayor that there has been an increase of faster rail cars in the last two years.

"Three times a night there's an oil train that goes by there. If anything happens on that railroad, if one spike is out of place, I'm wiped out," said Duffy.

"I believe a pipeline would be much safer."

The NEB is scheduled to hear from interveners in support and opposed to the pipeline in Montreal this week, before heading to several other cities along the route.

The hearings started in Saint John and Fredericton.

The NEB is set to submit its final report by March 2018, at which point the federal cabinet will have the final say on the project.