It’s been fascinating watching the fever building in Saint John around “The Great Energy Hub”. Certainly everyone is doing a great job in building the hype that seems to be necessary to move these developments forward.
The Telegraph Journal is the face of this phenomenon and one must admit that they are doing a thorough and professional job of building a fever pitch. All of the shills are out and at it as well; politicians, academics, recycled political hacks, even the likes of Patrick Moore, the erstwhile born-again eco-business evangelist, is in town beating the drums. Some have even tried to alter our educational system to provide themselves with the training grounds for their “workers” while failing forestry interests beat the streets seeking bail-outs similar to those provided to the handful of fishing companies that tried to control our ocean wealth. While they failed, they also destroyed one of the world’s greatest resources the Atlantic Cod. Others are flogging “Atlantica”, a deep integration conduit for goods flowing through our turf to feed the insatiable appetite of our neighbours to the south. And we get to carry the bucket!
Unfortunately, few seem to be concerned about the cumulative impacts of all these planned developments on the adjacent and valuable Bay of Fundy and the fundamentally important resources that occur there. Ah well, when you are “raping mother” why worry about a few scars?
Underlying all of this are the same concerns that existed 20-odd years ago with construction of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, Coleson Cove, and before that even a 1970’s attempt to establish an LNG terminal where the Coleson Cove Generating Station now sits and a new port in Musquash Harbour where the idea was to divert the St. John River so that it would flush out the mud! No kidding! The Irving interests lost those particular battles to the then strong Lorneville fishermens’ lobby, but that failure was followed shortly by the expansion of the official harbour limits down to Musquash, setting the stage for todays massive developments.
The all powerful National Harbours Board has since been able to smooth the way for progressive developments that are now culminating in a second oil refinery, an LNG terminal, an associated chemical plant, and probably cogeneration plants as well. Meanwhile, up the coast, accelerated potash development will see additional brine dumps and associated port-side pollution while the refurbished Nuclear Plant and a potential second version will add their own unique concerns.
And the concerns are real. They include:
1. Ecological Impacts: Questions about the ecological impacts resulting from the massive amounts of water that will be extracted from the Bay of Fundy for the various industrial plants along the coast. Some of us believe that observable impacts have already occurred with the reduction of plankton levels and associated losses of forage and commercial fish species. Virtually nothing survives the rapid changes in pressure and temperature that occur when high volumes of water containing this preciously living cargo, pass through these systems.
2. Air and Water Emissions: Increased airborne emissions will continue to impact the health of New Brunswick residents as well as our neighbours in Nova Scotia who receive much of the air-borne carcinogens and toxic chemicals that we release daily along our shores. Should anyone doubt the toxic clouds that we pass through daily, they should check data provided by Environment Canada and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Not only do we breath this stuff, but it enters our groundwater, streams, and the ocean with sublethal and lethal impacts on aquatic organisms and our precious fish stocks. Water-borne pollutants that continue to enter the Bay of Fundy are well documented and the impacts are well know, if ignored.
3. Physical Threats: Concerns about earthquakes are real. As Mark Connell recently pointed out in the Telegraph Journal all of these developments are practically sitting on a know active fault that has recorded tremours as high as 6 on the Rikter Scale, generating a tsunamis right here in Atlantic Canada. Rising water levels are expected to impact our shores in only decades according to some of the latest analyses and this will result in negative impacts on shore-side developments currently underway or in the planning stage. Terrorism is, of course, another concern.
We will examine some of the details in later articles. Do you ever get the feeling that we are in some kind of frantic terminal spasms?
That’s my opinion tonight. Feb 11, 2008