One thing about building and operating pipelines and other energy infrastructure is that we are always learning new lessons, which help us develop and operate our facilities even better. This blog is about a case in point.
In April 2014, TransCanada undertook some preliminary geotechnical survey work to help plan the design of a marine terminal in Cacouna, Quebec, as part of the Energy East Pipeline project. At the time, we believed we had all the permits and authorization certificates required, notably from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
After the work was completed, we learned that Quebec’s Ministère du développement durable, de l’environnement, et de la lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) also required us to seek authorization from their office.
Up to that point, TransCanada had understood that the preliminary nature of the work meant that we only needed a Species At Risk Act (SARA) permit from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Therefore, we felt we had gone above and beyond the requirements, since we not only had a SARA permit but as is our practice on every project, we had also been keeping municipal officials and local media informed of our activities.
Regrettably, we learned that this was not the case. We needed to go further.
Even though we ultimately withdrew the proposed marine terminal in Cacouna, that set of events back in April 2014 is making a difference in the way we do things.
TransCanada doesn’t take chances with things like safety, and protection of the environment, whether it is in the transportation of oil and gas, or the planning and development of projects such as Energy East.
On Friday September 4, we received notice that the MDDELCC has determined that we did not obtain an authorization from them for the preliminary work in April 2014 and that we are potentially subject to an administrative monetary penalty based on an amount that is set by law, which would normally be 5,000 dollars.
Our error was a technical oversight. But that does not mean we are taking any of this lightly.
As with all our successes as well as setbacks, we seek to learn from these experiences, in order to do things better. In this case, we have been working more closely with the MDDELCC, to make sure we don’t miss any important steps along the way, especially when it comes to transparency and the sharing of information.
That cooperation is ensuring the development of Energy East is done not only following best practices based on our own 60-year experience building and operating pipelines in Quebec and across North America. By sharing information and receiving the input of all the different authorities involved in this process, including the MDDELCC, we are making sure Energy East will be one of the safest, best-built pipelines in the world.
We are committed to continuing to work with the Quebec government to meet all their expectations for this project, and to continuing to have an open dialogue with them about all of our activities.
Make no mistake; TransCanada is fully dedicated to ensuring this project is done right.