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Brent Patterson

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Brent Patterson is the Political Director at the Council of Canadians. He works with the Council's chairperson Maude Barlow, its campaigners, organizers and chapters across the country on trade, energy, water, and health care issues. The Council has political staff in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Halifax, Delhi, Cape Town and Mexico City. You can follow Brent on Twitter @CBrentPatterson.

TransCanada seeks approval to conduct seismic testing in the Ottawa River

| March 15, 2016
Photo: Mac Armstrong/flickr

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TransCanada has secured a permit to conduct seismic testing where the Energy East pipeline would cross the St. Lawrence River and is seeking a similar permit for the Ottawa River.

On March 10, Le Devoir reported (in French) that the Parti Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire are opposed to the Liberal government's granting of "the certificate of approval on February 29, 2016 to TransCanada for seismic surveys in the St. Lawrence River" and that they are also against "the granting of a certificate of authorization for carrying out seismic surveys in the Ottawa River."

The article says the seismic testing would take place near Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Lévis, where the pipeline would cross the St. Lawrence River. The testing would occur between September and November of this year. And it notes, "The Minister also authorized TransCanada to conduct seismic surveys in a 'coastal swamp' on the north side of the St. Lawrence River using 'explosive charges,' but that the company must observe a 20-metre buffer zone from the Battures-de-Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures nature reserve." Quebec City is situated about 20 kilometres downstream of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and Lévis.

TransCanada is also waiting for another certificate of authorization from the Quebec government for seismic testing in the Ottawa River near Pointe-Fortune, which is located about 125 kilometres east of Ottawa.

This morning, CBC reports:

"The Grand Chief of Kanesatake, the Mohawk community hugging the north shore of Lake of Two Mountains, says the Energy East pipeline could be catastrophic for his people -- and moving forward without the community's consent violates Aboriginal and treaty rights under both Canadian and international laws. Serge Simon was responding to recent news that the pipeline's proponent, TransCanada Inc., has applied to the province for permits for seismic exploration in the Ottawa River as a precursor to the proposed construction of Energy East."

CBC adds, "Simon said an oil spill around the Lake of Two Mountains would be disastrous for drinking water, and the proposed route cuts through traditional hunting and fishing grounds." Lake of Two Mountains is where the Ottawa River widens at its confluence with the St. Lawrence River. That area is about 25 kilometres downstream from where the pipeline would cross the river at Pointe-Fortune.

In his March 9 letter to Quebec premier Philippe Couillard, the Grand Chief writes:

"We were incredibly surprised and dismayed to learn that the Quebec government could be issuing permits to TransCanada to perform seismic testing in the Outaouais River without first consulting the Mohawks of Kanesatake. ...We hereby insist that the Quebec government consult the Mohawks of Kanesatake in regards to both the proposed testing and the entire pipeline before issuing any permit for seismic testing in the Outaouais River."

But in the March 10 Le Devoir article, the media officer for the provincial environment minister says, "The company is conducting the study of impact to meet Quebec's demands [for information]."

The Council of Canadians is campaigning to stop the Energy East pipeline and stands with the Mohawks in their opposition -- and legal right to stop -- seismic testing in the Ottawa River.

Photo: Mac Armstrong/flickr

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