Huge LNG project near Prince Rupert hangs in balance
A report written by engineers at Stantec Consultants is at the centre of a drama playing out in northern B.C. over whether to allow an $11-billion LNG plant and marine terminal to be constructed.
Last week the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency resumed its study of the proposed Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas terminal near Prince Rupert after an 11-week hiatus. As part of that review, the agency is studying a report prepared by Stantec for the proponents, who want to build a massive deep water terminal to ship LNG to China and the Pacific Rim.
Stantec and the proponents have studied 26 different sites but concluded the best option is to build the LNG plant on Lelu Island. From there a 1.5-km suspension bridge and 1-km trestle will extend out to a deep berth marine terminal in Chatham Sound.
But environmentalists and the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, whose traditional territory includes Lulu Island, object to the plans. The First Nation has overwhelmingly turned down an offer to accept the terminal that would have provided them with $1 billion over 40 years. The main problem they see is that the trestle is beside Flora Bank, a sandy reef area that supports eelgrass, which in turn is critical for salmon in the estuary of the Skeena River.
The 3,600 member Lax Kw’alaams commissioned its own study by SedTrend Analysis which says the trestle will disrupt the complex ecosystem. SedTrend Analysis is led by Dr. Patrick McLaren, P.Eng., an expert in sediment movements who was previously with the Geological Survey of Canada. His report was submitted it to the CEAA in February.
Stantec’s report on the other hand, says that the LNG project will have little to no impact on Lelu Island.
The project has already won approval from the B.C. Environmental Agency, albeit with eight conditions. The federal government’s CEAA Environmental Assessment decision is due in October of this year and will be legally binding in its conditions.
PETRONAS, Sinopec, JAPEX, Indian Oil Corporation and PetroleumBRUNEI are all shareholders in Pacific NorthWest LNG. The website says the construction project would create 4,500 jobs at peak, and 600 permanent jobs.
To read a report in the Globe and Mail of May 18, click here.
To read about the project on Pacific Northwest’s website, click here.
To read an article about the impact on consulting engineering companies of billions of dollars in proposed LNG projects in B.C., click here.