By Robert Frank
Prospective participants in pending hearings on the Energy East Pipeline have until next Tuesday to register with the National Energy Board (NEB).
“Applications to participate opened Feb. 3 and will close March 3,” said spokeswoman for the federal energy regulator Tara O’Donovan. “If people feel that they are directly affected or have relevant information or expertise to offer, they should apply to NEB to participate in the hearing before the March 3 deadline.”
Energy giant Transcanada Corporation has filed a 30,000-page application to convert an existing gas pipeline to carry oil from Western Canada to Cornwall, Ont. It also wants to build a new pipeline to carry the crude thence eastward through Quebec to Atlantic Canada.
“We have issued letters asking Transcanada for additional information,” O’Donovan said in a telephone interview from NEB’s Calgary headquarters. “Once NEB determines that [the application] is complete, it will issue a hearing order which will outline the hearing process and [identify] the interested parties.”
The planned pipeline will pass to the north of the Montreal region, but Transcanada plans to connect an offshoot at its proposed Mascouche, Quebec, pumping station, whence it will wend through Terrebonne and Laval in making its way toward Montreal’s Suncor refinery.
The line is projected to span a muskrat nature reserve on two small islands where it will traverse the outlet of Rivière des Prairies between Laval and Montreal. However, Transcanada has offered to build a broader alternate crossing upstream that will skirt the muskrat reserve, if need be (see map).
“When it comes to the nature reserve, we will ensure that the pipeline is buried very deep beneath the ground and ensure that the land is restored to the way that we found it,” Transcanada spokesman Jonathan Abdecassis told The Suburban. “Also, where it crosses waterways, we traditionally use thicker-walled pipe and put extra sensors and one-way [anti-backup] check valves at either end.”
“Pipelines are the safest way to carry oil over long distances,” he underscored. “Right now, Quebec imports some 700,000 barrels a day from foreign sources and wants to replace it with North American oil by tying into refineries like Suncor which permits it to choose the most cost effective options to obtain oil.”
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