WINNIPEG – A group concerned about an oil pipeline running next to Winnipeg’s water supply says the city needs to do a better job studying the risk.
The Energy East line proposed by TransCanada Corp. would carry more than a million barrels of oil daily from Alberta to eastern Canadian refineries.
In Manitoba, oil would move through an old natural gas line that runs parallel to and crosses under the aqueduct that carries Winnipeg’s drinking water.
The city has earmarked $1 million to study the risk of contamination — particularly where the lines cross.
The Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition says the city needs to broaden its focus to include other spots along the line.
The coalition would like the pipeline to be rerouted away from the aqueduct.
“We are absolutely certain that the risk of small leaks along almost the entirety of the length where the aqueduct and the pipeline are beside each other have a better statistical chance of being the thing that contaminates the aqueduct,” the coalition’s Alex Paterson said Monday.
Geoff Patton of Winnipeg’s water and waste department said all possible risks to the city’s drinking water will be considered.
“We’re concerned about any incident with the Energy East pipeline that could affect the flow of the aqueduct,” he said.
The coalition is also encouraging the city to finish its study sooner, so it can be put before the National Energy Board, which is to decide whether the pipeline can go ahead.
The city hopes to have the study done by the end of the year.
“What we really want from the city is for them to provide independent information that looks at TransCanada’s submission, looks at ours, and tries to find the truth for citizens,” Paterson said.
No dates have been set for the energy board’s hearings, but the city has applied for standing.
It says it’s having trouble moving forward with its study because it can’t find anybody who’s neutral. Many outside consultants it wants to hire are already involved with the pipeline in another capacity.
TransCanada said it’s in the company’s best interests to make sure the environment is protected.
“It’s totally natural that people are concerned about pipeline safety, the protection of the environment and their communities. We’re concerned about that too,” said Energy East spokesman Tim Duboyce.
“The last thing we want to have is an incident on a pipeline. We invest a lot of money and effort to make our pipelines operate safely. We’re being very through in the process.”