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TransCanada holds open house amidst protest

Wednesday, April 02, 2014   by: Jamie Lyle

Concerned with the Energy East Pipeline project and the adverse effects it poses to the environment a number of folks dressed at water droplets to remind folks attending TransCanada Pipeline’s open house of the danger

TransCanada held its second set of open house meetings for its Energy East Pipeline project on Tuesday evening at the Best Western on Lakeshore, where citizens were invited to meet representatives and to ask questions in order to better understand the project.

The contents of the open public information session was extensive, encompassing audio and visual materials, as well as having numerous printed handouts, along with demonstrations and small scale models of the project.

The event also highlighted the number of people the industry employs in the community, with numerous people from the various jobs at TransCanada on site to explain even the slightest details with regards to the large scale operation.

Philippe Cannon, Spokesperson for the Energy East Pipeline project, says that the format and content of the open houses was designed to show the community the extent to which TransCanada is investing to create a strong, stable and safe oil and gas industry.

Cannon, who attended meetings on Tuesday with local first responders and with the Chamber of Commerce, says the purpose of those meetings was to make it clear that the city's need for safe drinking water and the environment are top priorities with TransCanada.

He went on to say that their operations have spent over a billion dollars on their infrastructure safety program.

“It wouldn't make sense at all to have a 12 billion dollar private project like the Energy East Pipeline Project and cut corners on safety and on the environment with the cost of negative repercussions can have on a company and on the environmental communities,” Cannon says.

In North Bay, a large group of citizens have made their concerns known that they are upset about the conversion to transport bitumen through the natural gas pipeline infrastructure near the city.

Their primary concern, voiced at numerous recent city council meetings, was the proximity of the pipeline to the city's drinking water source.

The age of the pipeline, as well as concerns that the pipeline would be under designed to transport the thicker bitumen or be susceptible to earthquakes or tampering, also has many residents worried about impacts to the environment.

When asked about the concerns of the pipeline with regards to the protection of North Bay's drinking water source, Cannon says converting the existing pipeline is an environmentally sound way to transport bitumen.

That, he says, along with the fact that they are adding double walls in critical areas, as well as using extra sensors which are monitored 24 a day, 7 days a week in order to detect any problems in a system which has been in use for a number of years, makes the pipeline a viable option.

“We've all seen the numbers, the statistics on moving large quantities of oil around and, by far, the safest way to transport it is by pipeline,” says Cannon.

The open house meeting reassured many that TransCanada was a highly capable organization who has the technology to detect the smallest leak if it were to happen within minutes and be able to rally the types of machines and equipment needed to deal with the enormous challenges of these large pipes and pumping systems as they cross the various geographical landscapes, especially in the North Bay region.

Regardless, approximately 15-20 concerned citizens showed up at the open house dressed as water droplets to make sure that their concerns were being publicized in the hopes of educating and avoiding any negative environmental impacts in the city.

When asked to explain why the determined yet peaceful protestors were dressed as they were, Yan Roberts, a concerned citizen, replied in a written statement to Baytoday that it was in part to “highlight the ridiculousness of TransCanada shoving their risky Energy East Pipeline through North Bay's drinking water—and to highlight how ridiculously misleading the TransCanada “Open House” community consultations are—North Bay folks got a little ridiculous themselves and crashed the open house dressed as water drops.”

Protests aside, there are those who felt a little put off that a major meeting of the Ontario Energy Board, scheduled on Wednesday, didn't seem to be as publicized as the TransCanada Open House.

For that reason, Gloria Barbetta, a Holistic Health Practitioner attended the open house and informed people of Wednesday's meeting, where concerned citizens could make their issues known to the Ontario Energy Board, as well as listen to discussions regarding the design and proposed purpose of the pipeline, along with the societal and economic assessment of the project.

“Everybody in North Bay, brothers, uncles, sisters, grandparents, everybody needs to be there tomorrow night,” Barbetta says.

Saddened by the lack of information regarding the Ontario Energy Board meeting and calling the TransCanada Open House “propaganda,” Barbetta says that her focus is aimed towards protecting the Trout Lake watershed, which provides the drinking water and the “essence of life to the entire community.”

She says that she wants to be assured that new pipelines will be installed, along with state-of-the art detection and sensor systems around bodies of water, especially since North Bay's drinking source is relatively close to the pipeline.

“It has to have Cathodical protection and it has to be monitored all the time,” Barbetta says.

“If they can guarantee me that and guarantee that the pipeline is going to be completely brand new, then I won't have that many concerns,” she says.

The Ontario Energy Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 2nd, at the West Ferris Community Centre, 42 Gertrude Street, from 6:30-9:30 pm.

For General Information regarding TransCanada, please visit www.transcanada.com.

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