Bitumen Should Raise Same Concerns as Shale Gas

20 10 2014

Re: Energy issues. Here we go again, Mr. Premier, on our four-year merry-go-round. You have just been elected in large part as a result of your wise stance on a moratorium on shale gas, based on the lack of evidence for its environmental and health safety.

But where do you head on your very first out-of-province junket? To Alberta, to promote an equally dangerous energy proposal, the TransCanada Corp. Energy East pipeline to pump bitumen from Alberta, ending up traversing the entire length of our province, from the Quebec border to the Bay of Fundy.

Perhaps you have been wooed by TransCanada’s stated 99.99 per cent safety record, but you might wish to imagine what the 0.01 per cent unsafe record could mean if you happened to live near the pipeline and ended up with bitumen in your backyard, and eventually in one of the many watercourses that it crosses on its way to the refinery, all of which flow into the Saint John River.

In the 10 minutes it could take to detect and stop the spill, you would receive one million litres of bitumen, and there would be absolutely nothing you could do about it. And the risk would endure for succeeding generations. And this doesn’t factor in the effect of the 99.99 per cent that will end up contributing to climate change.

Where will your wisdom lie then? And don’t bring up the old saw,“But what are the alternatives?”They are there, as evidenced by several much more forward-looking jurisdictions around the world. That’s where you should head on your next junket.

Norval Balch

Lakeville Corner, N.B.

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