TransCanada vows to comply with NEB ruling on Bay of Fundy tanker traffic
Calgary-based company says 281 oil tanker visits per year will come to Bay of Fundy if Energy East is approved
TransCanada Corp. is vowing to continue working with Bay of Fundy groups about the issue of increased tanker traffic in the region if the National Energy Board approves the company's request to build the Energy East pipeline project, according to an official.
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick asked the regulatory board this week at its hearings in Saint John to clarify what it considers to be the impact zone of the proposed pipeline project and how the Bay of Fundy factors into the discussion.
Tim Duboyce, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the company has looked at the potential impact of increased tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy if the Energy East project moves forward.
"Our position is that additional ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy … will bring total traffic near levels in past years," said Tim Duboyce, spokesman for TransCanada.
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Documents filed by Calgary-based TransCanada project 281 oil tanker visits per year to the Energy East marine terminal at Canaport.
In 2014, there were 835 vessel calls at the Port of Saint John, more than 200 fewer ships than called in 2002.
"We are engaged in looking at the potential impacts of shipping traffic and working with partners to address issues and ensure the protection of marine life and habitat," said Duboyce.
"That engagement is ongoing and will continue during the planning process and throughout the operation of the pipeline and port terminal."
A three-member National Energy Board panel started its hearings into the $15.7 billion Energy East project this week in Saint John, where the oil that would be shipped through the proposed pipeline would be refined.
Energy East is a proposed 4,600-kilometre pipeline that would stretch from Alberta to an export terminal in New Brunswick and could carry up to 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Groups concerned about tanker traffic
Groups were pressuring the regulatory board to explain how it would factor in increased tanker traffic in the Bay of Fundy as it considers the Energy East pipeline project.
Matthew Abbott, the marine conservation director for the Conservation Council, said it would be "pretty shocking" if the question of increased marine traffic in the Bay of Fundy was outside of the scope of the hearings into the Energy East pipeline project.
"There's a whole area where, you know, fishermen will be losing traps, fishermen will be coming into conflict with tankers," he said.
In a response on Thursday evening, a national Energy Board spokesperson said the environmental and socio-economic effects of increased marine shipping have been identified by the board as issues for it's consideration in the proceedings.
Many of the ships expected to visit the marine terminal would be supertankers, including vessels capable of carrying more than two million barrels of oil.
The increased tanker traffic that could result from the pipeline being built is also a concern for fishing groups in the region.
"The truth is that a ship that size takes 10 nautical miles to stop," said Colin Sproul, spokesman for the Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association, a Nova Scotia group.
"It's incredibly important that the National Energy Board would weigh those risks as well. That [the Bay of Fundy] is part of Canada just as much as that pipeline crossing through the country."