Category Archives: Canadian regulation

Canada’s National Energy Board is recommending re-approval of controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Repost from The Energy Mix
[Editor: Canada news is also U.S. news.  Canada wants to send that oil to the west, for eventual export on the Pacific Ocean.  Highly recommended: The Energy Mix newsletter.  Check out their archive of past issues.  Subscribe here.  – RS]

NEB Sidesteps ‘Significant’ Impacts, Recommends Trans Mountain Pipeline Approval

By Mitchell Beer, February 25, 2019
skeeze/Pixabay

Canada’s National Energy Board is recommending federal cabinet re-approval of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion despite its likely “significant” environmental and climate impacts, prompting multiple Indigenous and environmental opponents to vow the project will never be completed.

“The project would cause ‘significant adverse environmental effects’ on the southern resident killer whale population, and while a worst-case spill from the pipeline or an oil tanker is not likely, ‘the effects would be significant,’” CBC reports, citing NEB Chief Environmental Officer Robert Steedman.

“While these effects weighed heavily in the NEB’s consideration of project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the Government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to minimize the effects,” the NEB decision stated.

“Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), said it’s ‘ludicrous’ that economic interests are considered more important than killer whales,” National Observer reports. “We are proud British Columbians, and we have a duty to protect what we’ve all been blessed with in British Columbia in regard to the pristine beauty of the environment,” Philip said. “We will rise to the challenge.”

“I think the NEB has a long record of siding with industry over communities and other concerns…so we have every expectation that they’re going to recommend the project go ahead despite the serious problems with it,” said Stand.earth climate campaigner Sven Biggs, in the lead-up to the NEB announcement. “It’s likely there are going to be more lawsuits and more delays because of them, and if the cabinet decides to go ahead and restart construction, you’ll see protests in the streets and along the pipeline route.”

Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO Perrin Beatty “said he was pleased the NEB sees the project as a matter of ‘national interest’, and ‘now it is up to the federal government to take the steps necessary for getting this pipeline built without any further delay’,” Observer states.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi called the ruling “an important milestone”, adding that Ottawa is in a “very strong position” to wrap up project consultations with affected Indigenous communities within 90 days.

“We know how important this process is to Canadians,” Sohi said in a prepared statement. “We are hopeful the work we are doing will put us in a strong position to make a decision.”

The NEB attached 16 new conditions to the approval, on top of the 156 it had already imposed, including “measures to reduce underwater noise and to protect marine species from collision, reduce the emissions of vessels, among other issues,” Observer reports. “The NEB said it applied the precautionary principle, requiring that environmental measures must anticipate and prevent environmental harm, when considering human industrial involvement with the ‘complex and interconnected ecosystem’ of the Salish Sea.”

The Board added that the pipeline “remains in the public interest of Canada,” CBC writes. “The regulator provided a list of ‘considerable’ benefits from the project including jobs across the country, government revenues, spending on pipeline materials, greater market access for Canadian oil, and training, jobs, and business opportunities for local Indigenous communities.”

It added that marine traffic off the B.C. coast is on track to increase, with or without an expanded pipeline. “The panel feels strongly that if these recommendations are implemented, they will offset the relatively minor effects of the project-related marine traffic and, in fact, will benefit the entire Salish Sea ecosystem,” Steedman said.

For the groups that have been fighting the pipeline, the decision was just another step on a long road.

“We still say no to the project,” said UBCIC Secretary Treasurer, Chief Judy Wilson. Even if one nation, one community says no, that project is not happening.”

“The troubling part for me and First Nations concerned about their water and their territories is the fact that Trudeau has stated this pipeline will be built, full stop. It makes an absolute mockery of the consultation process that was court ordered and has been accomplished today,” added UBCIC Vice President and Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis Chief Bob Chamberlin.

“The NEB has effectively ignored the impacts on whales, Indigenous communities, and the climate. Now it is up to cabinet to reject the NEB’s recommendation and refuse to approve the project,” said Ecojustice lawyer Dyna Tuytel.

Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver responded with a Friday afternoon demonstration outside local CBC offices. “The world’s climate scientists are clear: we have 12 years to drastically reduce carbon emissions or face catastrophic consequences,” the organization stated on Facebook. “We can do this, but the clock is ticking. Instead of making urgent and meaningful investments in sustainable development and renewable energy projects, the Trudeau government is committing billions in public funds toward expanding dirty tar sands bitumen extraction.”

The news report on Common Dreams captured crossborder reaction, as well.

“I understand in British Columbia, this pipeline will provide a way of having an income,” said Noel Purser of the Suquamish Tribe, one of four Northwest U.S. Indigenous communities that challenged the project in 2013. “But is it worth the potential of a spill, that risk? Is it really worth that? Because that will impact everybody, not just here in British Columbia. It will impact us in Suquamish; it will impact our relatives in Alaska.”

“Once again, Canada’s NEB has sided with short-term Big Oil profits instead of the long-term health of the Pacific Northwest’s people, climate, and orcas,” said Marcie Keever of Friends of the Earth. “Shame on Prime Minister Trudeau, his government, and the National Energy Board of Canada for ignoring widespread opposition and serious concerns in favor of this destructive pipeline. Canada’s decision will likely bring about the extinction of the Northwest’s iconic killer whales and drive us further towards the brink of climate chaos.”

Writing in the week or so before the decision, Dogwood BC’s Kai Nagata circulated a list of the things he would and would not do once the widely-expected announcement was official.

“Here’s what I’m going to do when the news comes out: Take a deep breath, walk the dog, make dinner for my kid,” he wrote. “Here’s what I’m not going to do: Wail, gnash teeth, rend my garments, wallow in despair.”

All of that on the assumption that the outcome of the NEB’s review was already as certain as death and taxes.

“Justin Trudeau can promise hope and change and reconciliation and all that nice stuff. At the end of the day, he does what the oil companies tell him,” he wrote. “So that’s what’s wrapping up this week—another rigged review by an industry-funded, industry-staffed regulator that has never said no to a pipeline.” But “we also need to build our energy for the bigger fight ahead,” beginning when the project receives federal cabinet approval.

“That’s going to take hard work. And hard work requires us to slow down and take care of the basics: sleep, food, fresh air, our relationships with family and friends,” he wrote. But despite the “hell of a beating” communities have taken from fossil companies over the last couple of years, “I’m feeling calm and confident,” he concluded. “I hope you do, too.”

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    LATEST DERAILMENT: Diesel fuel leak in heart of Toronto, no injuries

    Repost from the Toronto Star

    Freight train derailment a ‘wake-up call’ on rail safety, councillor says

    Human error blamed for freight train derailment in heart of the city after a Canadian Pacific Railway train collided with another on Sunday morning.
    By Ebyan Abdigir, Aug. 21, 2016
    A CP Railway freight train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts., early Sunday after two trains collided, causing a diesel fuel spill. CP blames human error for the collision.
    A CP Railway freight train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts., early Sunday after two trains collided, causing a diesel fuel spill. CP blames human error for the collision. (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR)

    Human error is being blamed for a freight train derailment in the heart of Toronto Sunday morning that had crews scrambling to contain a diesel fuel leak.

    The derailment happened after a train struck the tail of another train at about 5:20 a.m. near Dupont and Bathurst Sts., Canadian Pacific Railway spokesperson Martin Cej told the Star.

    No one was injured in the collision and subsequent derailment and the diesel fuel leak, which Toronto police said had not been a threat to public safety, was quickly contained.

    Cej said that one car was carrying batteries and aerosols, which are classified as “dangerous goods” under Canadian regulation, but they did not leak, he confirmed.

    City councillor Josh Matlow raised new concerns Sunday about freight trains running through densely populated neighbourhoods.

    A CN train derailed near Bridgeman and Howland Aves., East of Bathurst and Dupont Sts.
    A CN train derailed near Bridgeman and Howland Aves., East of Bathurst and Dupont Sts.  (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE) 

    “While it was incredibly fortunate no one was hurt today, this derailment should act as a wake-up call for the federal government to move swiftly on rail safety,” he said.

    This spring, Mayor John Tory, Matlow and 16 other councillors whose wards are nestled by rail lines, signed a letter sent to Marc Garneau, the federal Transport Minister, calling for better rail safety.

    The 2016 federal budget allocated $143 million to be used over three years to improve rail safety.

    Cej said “early indications” point to human error as the cause of Sunday’s collision and derailment and that equipment failure was not a factor.

    Bartlett Ave., north of Dupont, was closed while police and rail officials investigated the incident.

    A crowd gathers near where a CP Railway train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts. on Sunday morning.
    A crowd gathers near where a CP Railway train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts. on Sunday morning.   (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE)

    Although there were no dangerous goods on board either train Sunday, roughly 9 per cent of goods transported by CP in Ontario are regulated dangerous goods, according to a disclosure to Transport Canada for 2015.

    A 2014 investigation by Star reporter Jessica McDiarmid monitored CP’s rail line that crosses Barlett Ave. on its way to Dupont St. in the Junction before it goes northward, west of the Don Valley.

    Between two 12-hour shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the Star found that more than 130 cars and tanks carried dangerous goods such as crude oil, methyl bromide and ethyl trichlorosilane, and more.

    A little over three years ago, a train hauling 72 cars of crude oil, derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Que. It resulted in an inferno that killed 47 people, and spilled six million litres of crude.

    Since the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster, rail companies are required to provide information to municipalities for emergency planning, however, under strict confidentiality agreements. Canada’s largest railroads already did this upon request.

    In February 2015, the federal government introduced a bill that increased the amount of insurance railways must carry to cover costs in the event of a derailment.

    A worker grabs hold of the railing of a derailed CN engine near Bridgeman and Howland Aves. on August 21.
    A worker grabs hold of the railing of a derailed CN engine near Bridgeman and Howland Aves. on August 21.  (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE) 

    With files from Fakiha Baig and Star Staff

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      Canada phasing out DOT-111 rail tank cars ahead of schedule

      Repost from Hazmat Magazine

      Canada phasing out potentially dangerous rail tank cars ahead of schedule

      By J Nicholson, August 19, 2016

      The Canadian federal government will retire the older DOT-111 rail tanker cars — the ones involved in the deadly Lac-Mégantic tragedy — several months earlier than planned. “Protective Direction 38” stipulates that the DOT-111 tanker cars will no longer be permitted to transport crude oil or other dangerous goods on Canadian railways as of November 1st 2016. The original phase out plan called for the tanker cars to be phased out by May of 2017.

      An unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in July 2013. (CBC)
      An unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in July 2013. (CBC)

      The DOT 111 rail tanker cars do not have a layer of thermal protection. Experts speculate that the Lac-Mégantic rail derailment would not have been as disastrous if the runaway freight train did not have DOT 111 tanker cars. On July 6th 2013, a runaway freight train pulling 72 tanker cars of crude oil exploded in the downtown area of Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people.

      The new standard tanker rail car is the TC-117. It has a thicker steel hull, thermal protection, a full head shield, protective valve covers and a bottom outlet valve for safety. Rail experts say the TC-117 is much more able to resist puncture than the DOT 111.

      DOT 111 will still be able to be used by rail companies; however they are not permitted to be used for the transport of dangerous materials such as crude oil.

      There are skeptics to the phase out rules on the old rail cars. Mike Benson , the Fire Chief for the northern Ontario community of Gogama, told the Timminspress.com that he is skeptical that the redesign of rail cars, on their own, will ensure safety in his community.

      “It’s a good step but a very small step. But the problem isn’t so much the makeup of the cars as it is the maintenance and inspection of the track,” said the fire chief. “All the difference with the new cars is another quarter-inch of steel on either end of the car. These things contain 100,000 litres weighing a million pounds, so it’s not going to change anything if there’s a derailment.”

      A more effective policy, said Benson, would be taking steps to prevent similar derailments from happening in the future. That would mean significantly increasing the amount of track maintenance and inspection and decreasing the speed limit for trains in rural areas.

      “The companies don’t want to slow their trains down … but with four derailments in three years, I’d say there’s a bit of a problem there,” said Benson.

      The Railway Association of Canada is in favour of the move made by the federal government to phase out the tanker cars. Michael Bourque, a spokesperson for the Association stated, “Removing this tank car model from service sooner is an effective step toward ensuring the safe transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. We welcomed harmonized Canada-U.S. tank car standards introduced last year, and we’re equally pleased with the announcement.”

      The use of rail cars to transport oil has soared in Canada over the past few years. In 2015, there were 146,000 shipments of crude oil across Canada.

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