August 5, 2016 3:56 pm
Updated: August 5, 2016 4:28 pm

Bay of Fundy oil spill could threaten east coast bird populations: naturalist

WATCH ABOVE: With the National Energy Board hearings set to get underway Monday in Saint John, Global’s Andrew Cromwell hears from those worried about the potential consequences the Energy East Pipeline could bring.

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With National Energy Board (NEB) hearings into the proposed Energy East pipeline set to begin next week in Saint John, groups with concerns about the mega project are stepping forward.

Those in favour of the project, which would see more than a million barrels of Alberta oil piped to Saint John each day, cite it’s economic benefits.

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But worry over the potential for oil spills remains a major issue for environmentalists.

READ MORE: Energy East says Husky oil spill ‘rare’ ahead of NEB public hearings

Well known New Brunswick naturalist Jim Wilson says in the spring alone, hundreds of thousands of sea birds migrating to the Arctic do so by way of the Bay of Fundy.

“If there were an oil spill at that time of year it could literally wipe out a high proportion of the east coast populations of certainly loons, many sea ducks and a lot of other birds,” Wilson said.

Both Nature NB and Nature Canada will be among the first to appear before the NEB, echoing concerns about birds and oil spills as well as increased tanker traffic and noise.

“The Bay of Fundy is sort of interesting place that, the conditions are very rugged and the weather changes really easily,” said Vanessa Roy-McDougall, executive director of Nature NB.

READ MORE: Energy East pipeline: environmental groups concerned about tanker traffic increase

Citizens representing local groups like the Red Head Anthony’s Cove Preservation Association will also appear this week hoping to get answers on issues important to them. Spokesperson Lynaya Astephen isn’t convinced the hearing process will work.

“When I’m asking questions to Trans Canada [Corp.], they don’t have to give me an answer right away,” Astephen said. “They can go back and work on their answer and form a written answer.”

The Energy East public hearings begin Monday morning.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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