News roundup: Of a Vale dumping dustup, plus the Energy East pipeline’s latest woes

With no earth-shattering energy and mining news on the go today, I figured I’d provide some commentary on two news stories making the rounds.

Vale N.L. behaving badly?

Ashley Fitzpatrick with the St. John’s Telegram reports that a delayed trial involving allegations of illegal dumping of liquid waste into the waters near Vale Newfoundland and Labrador’s Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in Labrador is back in provincial court this week after a six-month hiatus.

The alleged incident occurred in October of 2011. But the trial didn’t start until May of 2014. Then it was delayed for roughly six months due to what Fitzpatrick refers to as ” scheduling conflicts and illness.”

While we can complain about the snail’s pace of this trial, it is always interesting to see what the outcome will be when a high profile company – and significant employer in the province – like Vale N.L. is taken to court for running afoul with environmental regulations.

A guilty verdict – if it happens – not only hurts the reputation of Vale and the entire mining sector, but it puts all miners operating in Newfoundland and Labrador on notice that they can’t drop their guard when it comes to protecting the environment in the areas they operate in.

This is a trial that should be followed closely in Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s hope there are no more delays in the proceedings.

Trouble in pipeline paradise?

We’ve written before about New Brunswick’s love (from a political and business perspective anyway) of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Energy East pipeline.

But now comes word that the pipeline might be in trouble because of what is happening in Quebec.

TransCanada has stopped all work on a major piece of the Energy East pipeline puzzle – a marine oil shipping terminal at a place called Cacouna on the St. Lawrence River.

The work is being stopped because the area is a migration and calving spot for beluga whales and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada announced on Dec. 1 that the beluga population in the St. Lawrence is at greater risk of extinction than it was 10 years ago.

The concern is having a busy oil terminal at Cacouna with big tankers coming and going will put the beluga there under even more stress and could deal a knock-out blow to the population.

A TransCanada spokesperson said the Calgary-based company will have to determine if the $12-billion dollar project, which would include building new pipe to Saint John, N.B. and building a new oil terminal there as well, would be “feasible” if any changes to the current project have to be made.

With Premier Brian Gallant championing Energy East as a much-needed job and revenue creator for New Brunswick, this is the kind of development pipeline boosters in the province can do without.

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