Transition Initiative Kenora
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Energy East: A Risk to Our Drinking Water

A detailed analysis of the proposed Energy East pipeline route out today shows that across Canada the project could lead to the contamination of crucial sources of drinking water not identified in TransCanada’s application.  Over 5 million Canadians' drinking water could be in jeopardy. 

In Kenora, residents who draw drinking water from the Winnipeg River and Black Sturgeon Lakes are particularly vulnerable to the risk of drinking water contamination from a pipeline spill.

Access to clean drinking water is essential to community health, but Energy East would put that at risk from contamination from toxic bitumen and crude oil.

If built, Energy East would carry tar sands diluted bitumen, which a recent report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says can create even greater environmental risks than conventional crude oil when spilled due to its tendency to sink in water and coat the bottom of the waterway.

“Protecting our most valuable resource – clean water – must take precedence over exporting dirty oil,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Just one pipeline rupture in any one of the vulnerable locations that we identified along Energy East’s proposed route could contaminate drinking water sources for years to come. Canadians should not sacrifice our clean drinking water for oil companies’ profits.”

Over two dozen municipal regions across four provinces would face direct risks to their drinking water from Energy East which, if built, would cross nearly 3,000 water bodies. Over five million Canadians across Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick draw their drinking water from sources within spill range and downstream of the Energy East proposed route.

For the first time, a study, Energy East: A risk to our drinking water, shows the magnitude of the threat Energy East poses to Canadians’ drinking water sources. Previous studies have warned of the safety risks a high-pressure oil pipeline of this size and scale would create for water in Canada, but didn’t provide this level of alarming detail.

“With a pipeline the size of Energy East, a major rupture threatens to be the largest pipeline spill Canada has ever experienced,” Andrea Harden-Donahue of the Council of Canadians added. “Diluted bitumen sinks to the bottom of rivers and lakes and sticks to everything it touches, making a full cleanup next to impossible. Energy East is simply not worth the risk.”

Energy East proposal by the numbers:

  • Estimated numbers of Canadians living in the oil spill zone: 5,061,433
    • Manitoba 676,613
    • Ontario 1,040,788
    • Quebec 3,213,353
    • New Brunswick 130,679
  • Total length of pipeline – 4,600 km
  • 3,000 km - Converted old natural gas pipeline
  • 1,600 km - New pipeline construction
  • 1,100,000 Million barrels per day
  • Water crossings – 2,963

Download a copy of the report here:

Richard Tolton