Initiative on tracking potential oil spills in the Rideau

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submitted by Sustainable North Grenville

How far could oil travel if it leaked from the proposed Energy East pipeline? To help answer this question, Environmental Defence is working with Sustainable North Grenville and Ecology Ottawa to map where oil from the Energy East pipeline would end up in the event of an oil spill on the Rideau and Ottawa Rivers.

“The risks from the Energy East pipeline that our rivers and our drinking water face is something that local residents need to know,” said Dale Marshall from Environmental Defence. “And yet TransCanada, the company proposing the project, has no idea and doesn’t intend to find out.”

The proposed Energy East pipeline from Alberta to New Brunswick will cross nearly 3,000 lakes, rivers, streams, and aquifers, including the Rideau River. To model the effect of a potential oil pipeline spill on the Rideau, 200 small wooden cards will be deposited in the river near the Baxter Conservation Area at the site of the planned future pipeline crossing, on World Environment Day, June 5, at 10:30am. These drift cards have identification numbers and instructions so that when people find them, they can go to a website to enter their location as well as see where other cards were found.

“The Rideau is a vital part of our community, our local economy and our ecosystem. That’s why we’re helping put drift cards in the river, and organizing a paddle down the Rideau to collect any cards that haven’t already been found,” said Chris Weissflog from Sustainable North Grenville.

“The Rideau River is part of the Ottawa River watershed, where over a million people get their drinking water and where countless species live — including several endangered species,” said Robb Barnes from Ecology Ottawa. “We want to protect the river system for its many inhabitants and for sustainable activities such as tourism and boating, rather than allow a pipeline to put it all at risk.”

Data from the project will be used to produce a report on the likely spill trajectory: how far and how quickly an oil spill will spread, and the locations where oil may accumulate. The local project is part of a larger one that includes similar drops of wooden drift cards in Quebec, New Brunswick, and northwestern Ontario near the Manitoba border.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

About SUSTAINABLE NORTH GRENVILLE (http://www.sustainablenorthgrenville.ca/): Sustainable North Grenville is a group of citizens interested in helping to make North Grenville a more sustainable community. Our mission is to foster a resilient community that meets the social, cultural and economic needs of its residents now and for the future, while preserving the environment’s ability to support it.

About ECOLOGY OTTAWA (www.ecologyottawa.ca/): Ecology Ottawa is a not-for-profit, grassroots and volunteer-driven organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada. We provide area residents with the information and tools they need to understand local environmental issues and promote environmental leadership.

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