TransCanada pipeline precautions 'not good enough' for Nipigon

Worried about its local waterway, community leaders in Nipigon want TransCanada to implement some extra safety measures for the company's proposed Energy East pipeline.
Nipigon town council wants TransCanada to beef up environmental safeguards for its proposed Energy East pipeline project. They're worried about waterways like the Nipigon River. (Supplied)

Worried about its local waterway, community leaders in Nipigon want TransCanada to implement some extra safety measures for the company's proposed Energy East pipeline. 

The company plans to convert stretches of natural gas pipeline to ship oil from Alberta to the east coast. The line runs through the Northwest, and crosses many waterways.

The watercourses around Nipigon worry Mayor Richard Harvey in particular.

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey. (Supplied)

“Unlike natural gas — if there is a leak, it just dissipates into the atmosphere— the oil would, especially in a waterway, would be a very difficult clean-up,” he said.

Nipigon council told representatives from the company during a recent meeting that it wants to see the pipe encased through waterways to provide an extra layer of protection against spills.

In a statement to CBC News, TransCanada spokesperson Phillip Cannon said extra precautions are taken when pipelines are near lakes, rivers and streams.

He said the highest quality steel, thicker-walled pipe and special construction techniques are used. And the pipeline — which is coated in a high performance coating — will be buried deep under water crossings to further ensure safety, Cannon added.

'We want those assurances'

Harvey said it’s critical to safeguard watercourses in northwestern Ontario from potential oil spills.

“This water, we're talking about in our area, it flows into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway,” he said “We want to make sure that that is protected.”

Town officials want environmental safeguards over and above what the company is proposing.

“We really appreciate the fact that this actual pipeline does far exceed current industry standards, and my comment to that is, ‘well, that's wonderful, but, y'know, it's not good enough for us’,” Harvey said.

In addition to encasing the pipe at water crossings, other safety ideas include using top-of-the-line leak detection technology.

Harvey said he's been assured those suggestions will be presented to company engineers.

"I understand that they are moving ahead ... with the project, and continuing to move this ahead, which I don't have a problem with, but certainly we want those assurances."

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