The $1.6 billion project will process and liquefy natural gas shipped by pipeline from northern British Columbia for export to Asian markets.< /p>
Woodfibre LNG wishes to reconsider certain conditions imposed on its liquefied natural gas production project in Squamish, British Columbia. In particular, it hopes to reduce its activity exclusion zone, which aims to limit underwater noise and the impact on wildlife, which environmentalists denounce.
Last June, Woodfibre LNG filed a request with the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (EIAC) to be able to make changes to certain conditions listed in the Declaration of project decision.
The company got the green light from the federal government for its mining project in 2016.
Woodfibre LNG wants to reduce the zone that prohibits it from producing dangerous underwater noise for the marine fauna around the project by increasing it from more than 7 km to 125 m.
If approved, the Marine Mammal Exemption Zone will allow Woodfire LNG to expose sea lions and seals to noise up to 190dB, says Tracey Saxby, Managing Director of My Sea to Sky , an organization created in 2014 to preserve Howe Sound and block Woodfibre LNG.
“It's a sound equivalent to repeated gunshots.
— Tracey Saxby, Executive Director of My Sea to Sky
Howe Sound has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2021. The number of sea lions Steller, designated Special Concern in 2003 under the Species at Risk Act, is increasing in this area.
The company maintains that these conditions, which require it to cease its activities in the area if a marine animal is found there, can hardly be respected from a technical point of view and economic.
In its request for modification of the project, the gas company affirms that the initial conditions were intended to protect all marine animals, namely pinnipeds (seals) and cetaceans. The changes requested will make it possible to separate these two categories of species to better mitigate the impacts of the project.
This request to the AEIC in no way reduces the responsibility or Woodfibre LNG's commitment to protecting marine mammals, instead recognizes the difference between cetaceans and pinnipeds, the company wrote in a statement.
Woodfibre LNG also wishes to clarify its conditions for monitoring water quality and mitigating potential adverse effects. The gas company indicates that the terms used in the initial assessment define an area of impact too broad, where these could be due to other activities in the sector, forestry for example.
The terms inappropriately hand over responsibility to Woodfibre LNG to put in place mitigation measures in response to activities that are outside the project's area of control, the document reads.
In an interim report released after Woodfibre LNG's application, CNSA said the proposed changes were reasonable.
Project impacts would not increase the extent to which the effects of the project, as assessed during the environmental assessment, are negative, as marine mammals and human health would remain protected, she said.
Public consultations were also held until January 30 on the proposed changes. The Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, will then make a decision on this subject.
Several organizations, including the environmental group Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative and the District of Squamish, voiced their opposition to the proposed changes, while environmental organizations My Sea to Sky and Georgia Strait Alliance have requested letters be sent to Steven Guilbeault to avoid approval of the changes.
The Squamish First Nation, which co-regulates the project with the AEIC, for its part, said that the decision to accept or not these modifications rests with the federal agency.
The project is expected to create 650 jobs during its construction phase, planned on a term of two years; and is expected to employ around 100 people for 25 years once the plant is in operation.
With information from Chad Pawson