Two sides to Fundy: Meetings about Energy East pipeline project set

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on June 28, 2016

The CCGS Earl Gray took part in an oil spill collection exercise in the Annapolis Basin in 2012.

©Canadian Coast Guard

DIGBY , NS– Former MP Coline Campbell says people in Nova Scotia need to pay more attention to the Energy East Pipeline project and the risk it poses for the Bay of Fundy and communities all along it.

I’m not against the pipeline but I think there are better places for it go than having all that tanker traffic on the Bay of Fundy,” says Campbell, who was MP for West Nova from 1980 to 1984. “The Bay of Fundy is only 32 miles wide. In my day, every fisheries group in the province would have been at me about this but I’m not hearing anyone talking about it.”

The proposed pipeline would bring crude oil from Alberta to the Irving oil refinery in Saint John, N.B.

This would result in an increase in tanker traffic on the Bay of Fundy from 115 tankers a year to 281.

“If we have an oil spill in the Bay of Fundy the tides could take that up to Moncton, to the Minas Basin – our waters aren’t calm,” she says. “This could affect tourism, our fishing industry, communities up and down the coast and we aren’t hearing from our elected officials about this at all.”

Campbell says a better route for the pipeline is either following the same route as the liquid natural gas pipeline from Sussex, N.B. to Goldboro in Guysborough County, N.S. or, to the deepwater port at Point Tupper near Port Hawkesbury.

“We fought for years to keep oil rigs from drilling on George’s Bank and now we’re going to have 290 super tankers going up and down the Bay of Fundy. Is this a good idea?”

Stephen Thomas with the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) in Halifax has some concerns, but he is especially interested in what people think in coastal communities in Nova Scotia.

The EAC is holding public meetings this week and next in Yarmouth, Digby and Wolfville to discuss the risks of the proposed Energy East pipeline to the Bay of Fundy.

“We’re anxious to hear what people in Digby and Wolfville and Yarmouth think of 330 million barrels of oil a year being shipped on the Bay of Fundy,” he said. “We don’t think it is worth the risk to coastal communities – it’s an export pipeline for the benefit and profit of oil companies with very little benefit to Nova Scotians. We’d like to hear how people on this shore of the Bay of Fundy respond to this.”

At the EAC’s public meetings, Thomas plans to talk about the pipeline project, the reasons the proponents say it is important for our economy and then discuss the risks associated with the project, and then open it up to hear from local people.

Thomas says the EAC has been calling on the National Energy Board (NEB) to hold public hearings here in Nova Scotia just like they are doing in every province the pipeline passes through - New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – but not Nova Scotia.

The EAC does have intervener status and will be presenting to the NEB hearing panel. Thomas says the feedback they get in Nova Scotian communities will form part of their submission.

Colin Sproule of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association thinks as many people as possible including fishermen should attend the meetings if just to learn what is being proposed.

“They are talking about 300 million barrels of oil in the most ecologically sensitive waters in the world – the worst possible place for an oil spill and there needs to be good plan in place to deal with this, and that plan needs to start with engagement with stakeholders who understand the Bay of Fundy,” said Sproule. “Certainly we intend to be involved with those discussions and make our voices heard. We have an historical perspective that scientists don’t have, we have generational knowledge of the tide action in the Bay of Fundy.”


Ecology Action Centres public meetings about the risks of the Energy East pipeline project to the Bay of Fundy


June 29, 5:30 p.m.

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Library

405 Main Street, Yarmouth


June 30 at 6 p.m.

Digby Fire Hall

163 First Ave, Digby


July 3, 1:30 p.m.

Wolfville Farmers Market

24 Elm Ave, Wolfville


July 2, 1:30 p.m.

Halifax North Memorial Library

2285 Gottingen St, Halifax


Multiplying number of oil tankers in Fundy, Dec. 2015

Fishermen asked to help identify Bay of Fundy priority areas, Dec. 2015

Annapolis: Pipeline opponents concerned about Bay of Fundy, Oct. 2014