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First Nations chiefs worried about west-east pipeline terminal

08/15/2013 11:01 EDT | Updated 10/15/2013 05:12 EDT
The Assembly of First Nation Chiefs in New Brunswick is speaking out against plans to build a deep water marine terminal in Saint John for the proposed west-east oil pipeline.

TransCanada Corp. and Irving Oil Ltd. have formed a joint venture to build and operate a new $300-million terminal at Canaport if the EnergyEast pipeline project proceeds.

The chiefs "have serious concerns over negative environmental impacts" the terminal could have on on the aboriginal fishery in the Bay of Fundy, including endangered salmon, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

They are also worried about the possible impact on their ability to exercise constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights to generate a "moderate livelihood" from fishing, it states.

"But this isn’t just a First Nations issue, nor is it limited to just the salmon," said Chief George Ginnish, the assembly’s Mi’kmaq co-chair.

"There are a lot of people in non-aboriginal fishing villages along the Fundy coast who could suffer if the protection of the environment is not at the forefront of this Canaport expansion," he said.

Premier promised consultations

Chief Joanna Bernard, the assembly’s Maliseet-Wolastoqiyik co-chair, said Premier David Alward vowed during the EnergyEast pipeline announcement to work with First Nations to ensure environmental and safety standards are followed.

"The expansion of the Canaport Marine terminal which is expected to be completed by 2018 will require First Nations consultation, and we take the premier at his word that he will deliver on his promise," she said.

TransCanada Corp. officials have also promised to engage with First Nations and other communities as its $12-billion west-east pipeline project moves through the regulatory approval process.

Chief executive officer Russ Girling has said talks with First Nations communities are "absolutely critical."

The pipeline proposal, which still needs regulatory approval, would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada.

TransCanada is proposing to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of natural gas pipeline on its existing Canadian Mainline route so it can carry crude oil.

The company would also construct 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline to carry crude oil into Saint John, where it will end at the Canaport LNG terminal.

The Irving Oil Ltd. refinery in Saint John is the largest in Canada and can process 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Saint John also has a deep-water port and a liquefied natural gas facility.

TransCanada is expected to file its regulatory application with the National Energy Board by the end of the year.

The proposed Canaport Energy East Marine Terminal would connect TransCanada's Energy East Pipeline to an ice-free, deep water port.

Design work on the terminal, which would be located next to Irving Oil's existing import terminal, is expected to begin in 2015.

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