Prince Rupert was lucky to have a visit from three Russian scientists last Friday evening at the Lester Centre, who have studied the impact of an LNG terminal on Sakhalin Island. This is an island approximately the size of Vancouver Island that lies north of Japan and east of Vladivostok that had an LNG terminal become operational about seven years ago.
The scientists could not find anything really wrong with that terminal’s location, but they did note that, for some unknown reason, Pink Salmon stocks have declined in that general area of the island since the plant became operational, and that the vegetable gardens in a village a kilometre away were showing drastically reduced yields.
One thing that these scientists were adamant about: The estuary of a major salmon bearing river, like the Skeena, is not a good location for an LNG terminal.
On the other hand, we have our federal environmental assessment process that just [came back] for PNW to put an LNG plant on Lelu Island with a causeway and terminal right in the Skeena Estuary. The scientists gave us some pretty strong evidence that the dredging for the terminal and for the areas where the pipeline is underwater will cause massive disturbance of the sediment, and sound pollution, both of which can kill or drive away salmon smolts. These LNG companies often propose a certain amount of limited dredging, only to revise their plans, once under way, increasing the amount of dredging far beyond what was agreed to.
Why is the PNW LNG project even being considered given the importance of major river estuary for salmon habitat?
Even the Russians are smart enough to realize that you don’t put an LNG terminal at the mouth of a major salmon bearing river. Somehow this concept has escaped the environmental assessors. You don’t risk major salmon runs for a temporary economic boost.
This is a big coast, there’s lots of room. The Province should have made this clear to the LNG companies from the start. The Port Authority claims that it is consulting with the community and with First Nations, but actions speak louder than words. They have ignored and disregarded unequivocal evidence of the harm to salmon smolts that the construction of this plant and terminal could cause.