Last week, Pacific NorthWest LNG provided an update to Prince Rupert city council about their proposed natural gas liquefaction and export facility on Lelu Island.
With the first of two conditions completed, having gotten the Project Development Agreement legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in July, head of corporate and stakeholder relations Tessa Gill provided council with the procedures required for gaining their second condition – approval from the Government of Canada’s environmental assessment process.
“We’re still waiting on that, but everything else is in place and ready to go in terms of moving forward to the next stage of our project – construction,” said Gill last Monday night.
As Pacific NorthWest (PNW) continues its investigative work, conducting marine geotechnical work with vessels and barges to take samples from the area, Gill assured council that no investigative work is taking place on Flora Bank. Late in the summer, occupational protests from area First Nations interrupted the company’s work, opposing test drilling on Flora Bank, commonly known to be a vital salmon-spawning habitat.
“I want to make sure everybody is aware [that] we are not doing any work on Flora Bank whatsoever … and there are some environmental monitors that sit with their vessels 24/7 to make sure that we are not disturbing anything, for example, eelgrass and we are doing [things] as per procedure and permits,” said Gill.
Fish studies, fish habitat studies and modelling work continues to inform the company on the best direction it should take regarding its marine infrastructure, all of which will have minimal impact on Flora Bank, continued Gill.
“I think some people still have a misconception that there is a causeway in the marine facilities. It is a construction that will allow the water to move underneath and around the facility, and it’s not on Flora Bank. We have a marine facility designed to be adjacent to Flora Bank,” she said.
Having removed a major dredge from their original design, PNW is continuing to conduct intensive studies on fish habitats.
“We’ve been conducting for several months now, fish and fish habitat monitoring program and its probably some of the most extensive and detailed work that’s been conducted in the area for quite some time. So we’re going to be using those results to further inform our design of the facility and the construction processes to make sure there’s minimum interaction with the marine habitat and environment … The results of those fish studies and surveys will become public as well,” Gill continued.
Modelling work that the company is undertaking includes water velocity, tidal and subtidal currents and its impact on Flora Bank.
“[The visual representations] give you an idea that any disturbance from [our] marine infrastructure is very small in the ranges that you see naturally across Flora Bank and we’ve got similar visual examples that shows the sediment disturbance from the marine infrastructure is actually very minimal. It’s in a matter of millimetres,” said Gill.
Some questions that council had for the company included how talks were going with the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, what a timeline that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency may respond with their conditional project approval may look like, and how many jobs would be created once the facility is constructed.
While Gill didn’t respond with details on specific discussions with Lax Kw’alaams, she mentioned that the company is engaged with all area First Nations and have different levels of conversation with each depending on what their levels of interest with the project are.
“We’re also interfacing with the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority in a constructive manner,” said Gill.
The stakeholder relations head also told council that while there is just over 100 days remaining on the CEAA regulatory clock to accept PNW’s submission, the timing of the decision is ultimately up to the regulator as to when they’re satisfied with PNW’s information.
“I think we’re moving to the end of clarifying with the regulator what’s required from the last information request submission and we’re moving very closely to having that done fairly quickly, hopefully. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the regulator what else they might need as they move through the process … That timeline, while it’s officially 100 days, it’s up to the regulator,” she said.
Gill also told council that roughly 300 permanent jobs would be created with an operational facility under PNW’s payroll, and approximately another 300 offsetting jobs would be created by crews supporting the facility that would not be under PNW’s payroll, and it depends on the company’s chosen contracting strategy. PNW would also look to hire locally first and then search elsewhere afterward, as the facility would not be a “fly-in, fly-out” terminal.