Shannon Lough/The Northern View Dodge Cove residents have challenged the Aurora LNG project that would be built less than one kilometre from their community.

Aurora LNG review still on hold

Nexen projected it would resume its environmental review on May 15

Aurora LNG continues to delay its environmental review process after it was put on hold March 22.

Following the public commenting period — with 412 pages worth of comments submitted — the company asked on Day 70 of the 180-day B.C. environmental assessment to suspend the review to address and respond to a number of concerns.

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) project proposed for Delusion Bay on Digby Island is a venture by Nexen Energy, a division of Chinese energy giant China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Japan’s INPEX Corporation.

Early May, the company anticipated it would have responses to public comments and resume its review period by May 15, but the weeks continue to slip by and since that time no news has come from Aurora LNG.

When asked for an update, spokesperson Kyle Glennie responded that: “This suspension of the review period gives us more time to be thorough and diligent in our examination and responses to stakeholder feedback. We look forward to the review process resuming, which we anticipate happening in the near future,” he wrote in an email on June 2.

Residents of Dodge Cove and the City of Prince Rupert have been some of the loudest critics of the project. The Dodge Cove community would be less than one-kilometre from a facility that would produce 24 million tons of LNG per year and Prince Rupert would be the primary service centre for the project.

The city is part of the Aurora LNG working group, and Mayor Lee Brain said the city’s position on LNG has always been welcome to new economic activity “but our goal is to ensure that it is really well planned and considers potential negative as well as positive outcomes,” he said on May 26.

During the pause in process the city has been engaged with Aurora LNG through the working group. Mayor Brain said they are stressing that the environmental assessment review should also include socioeconomic issues.

“We are always advocating for those things and negotiating to make sure that Prince Rupert gets the best deal it can get in this event if it is to occur,” he said.

The specific issues the city hopes Aurora LNG address once the project review comes back online are impact to air quality, the airshed, health impacts on local residents and safety concerns with respect to the airport operations, as well as the socioeconomic impacts from housing to health care.

Nexen has held frequent meetings with Dodge Cove residents who continue to challenge the project. The effects on the drinking water or having access to fresh water for the LNG facility’s cooling water system will be one challenge for Nexen.

Fresh water is not easily accessibly on the island. Dodge Cove has been under a boil water advisory since 1988 and in the project proposal Nexen stated it will have to build a desalination plant to process approximately 20 million litres of seawater a day to meet the operational water demand of 9,855,000 a day.

In the early stages of construction, Nexen proposes it may use municipal water until a permanent water supply system is constructed.

Still, the project is in the early stages, and it will remain that way until Nexen resumes its environmental assessment review with the province.

Project manager Dan Murray is expected to give a presentation at the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon on June 14.

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