March 17, 2017
March 11th marked the last day for public comment on Woodfibre LNG’s amendment to the environmental assessment. The company agreed to change the design of the project switching from seawater cooling system to air cooling as the result of the Squamish Nation process. The seawater system had no social license from the start due to harm to marine life.
One of the reasons the Air Cooling system was not chosen from the start was explained in Woodfibre’s 2015 Assessment of Alternative Cooling Systems document: “The use of air coolers for the Project would require greater refrigerant inventory, increasing the potential magnitude and extent of contamination in the event of a leak or spill from the refrigerant piping or tube bundles.” Other concerns with Air Cooling systems is the increased noise, warming of air and need for diverting water from Woodfibre Creek in addition to Mill Creek, both fish bearing streams. Howe Sound is rated top two of five best Pink Salmon fishing locations in B.C.
In February, 2017, Woodfibre applied for a 40 year export license, extending the license from 25 years. The Environmental Assessment was based on the life of the project being 25 years. If granted, the extension may not trigger any further review, however Woodfibre states it would live up to the commitments of the EA certificate. Safety concerns regarding the life of the floating storage containers would be a concern in the future.
In January elected officials from around Howe Sound were invited to a meeting with government staff, Woodfibre staff and MP’s in Squamish by MLA Jordan Sturdy to learn about the status of the project and view Woodfibre’s website that will provide the public will complete information as the project progresses. Feedback was being sought on how to make this process transparent. The meeting was not open to the public, but over 100 protesters were on hand to express their dissatisfaction with this closed door meeting.
In the meantime the Fortis BC Pipeline that will supply the gas is still working its way through approvals and challenges. The relocation of the compressor station is Squamish is going through a rezoning with the Squamish Lillooet Regional District and is facing opposition.
The project still has a long process ahead with for permitting with BC Oil and Gas Commission. The project is currently undergoing a TERMPOL review with Transport Canada. This process began in early 2017 and may be complete mid-year.
The project continues to be controversial, more recently due to concerns arising from RCMP investigations into political donations by the proponent and staff.