Fortis BC Pipeline Issues

Fortis BC (Proponent) proposes to build a high-pressure 24-inch pipeline from just north of the Coquitlam watershed to supply natural gas to the proposed Woodfibre LNG Project. The pipeline route goes along Finch Drive/Industrial Way and through the estuary, and includes an electric-drive compressor station currently proposed for 12-acres of land in the Industrial Park.

Below we've listed some of our key concerns with the proposed pipeline.

  • The concern that gas pipelines can become oil pipelines has been raised a lot in the last year. The BC Liberals have responded by saying that a new regulation prohibits proposed natural gas pipelines from transporting oil or diluted bitumen. The problem is that this government keeps changing their own legislation. They've already rebranded natural gas as a clean energy resource, a reversal of its earlier policy which recognized the need to shift our dependency away from ALL fossil fuels. They're also proposing to repeal the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act and replace it with a watered down Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting & Control Act (Bill 2).

    There is absolutely no assurance that this gas pipeline won't be used to transport tar sands oil in future. The possibility that this gas pipeline could become an oil pipeline is an unacceptable risk for Squamish and Howe Sound.

  • The Canadian Standards Association publishes standards for the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of pipelines and compressor stations through CSA standard Z662. This standard has been adopted through regulation under the Oil and Gas Activities Act.

    Following significant cuts to budgets and staffing levels at government ministries, the BC Oil & Gas Commission has enabled a Self-Assessment Protocol, which essentially means that industry will be monitoring their own pipelines and compressor stations.

    Regulators do not have sufficient staff, knowledge or money to effectively regulate the oil and gas industry, leaving industry to be self-monitoring. Some recent examples of accidents that resulted in deaths and environmental destruction include: the Lac Megantic rail disaster; the Mt Polley tailing pond spill; and the two sawmill explosions in British Columbia. There is little hope that the Province of BC will have the capacity to regulate, monitor and inspect this pipeline and compressor station to a standard that will prevent future accidents.

  • While accidents are fairly rare, they do happen and when they do the results can be catastrophic causing loss of life, injuries, property damage, and environmental damage. Why is this high-pressure pipeline and compressor station being proposed in a populated area close to businesses, homes, a daycare, a playground, and our emergency response centre? The proposed siting of both the high pressure natural gas pipeline and compressor station poses an unacceptable risk to safety of people in nearby homes and businesses along the pipeline route or within 1 km of the compressor station. This risk to human life is unacceptable.

    Alternative locations for both the pipeline route and the compressor station are possible, but they are more expensive. Tell FortisBC that they must find another location for both the pipeline route and the compressor station.

  • Estuaries and wetlands are one of the ecosystems most threatened by development, however they trap (sequester) more carbon than rainforests. Both seagrasses and salt marsh grasses are incredibly productive carbon sinks, as the carbon they use to make their leaves are incorporated into the layers of sediment every year.

    Estuaries and wetlands also help to make our water cleaner, as they act like a giant liver that filters and traps toxic chemicals and nutrients. They are hotspots for biodiversity, and are vital as habitat for migrating birds, and nurseries for juvenile fish. Routing this natural gas pipeline through this sensitive estuary habitat is an unacceptable risk.

    UNEP Blue Carbon report 

  • Resource development projects, such as pipelines or transiting tankers, have the potential to impact property values. Both direct impacts (following an accident) or the perception of impacts (the possibility that an accident may happen) are clearly linked to reduced property values.

    Directly impacted properties can devalue by 10-40%, while properties nearby can also see a 5-8% reduction in value. How will this impact Squamish homeowners and business owners. Will any compensation be offered to affected home and business owners for the reduction property values along the pipeline route? How will this compensation be determined?


    CRED BC: How do pipeline spills impact property values?

  • FortisBC has repeatedly assured us that this project will result in cheaper natural gas for BC consumers (see Item 1.5.1 of Fortis BC's Executive Summary). However, this has not been the case in other countries with LNG exports.

    The Wall Street Journal has outlined the unintended consequences of exporting LNG from Australia, where the export push has caused Australia’s domestic natural gas prices to triple over the last several years. The average household in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, could see its gas bill spike by US$200 this year. And one study suggests that the bills could keep adding up as more natural gas is diverted for exports.

    Essentially, natural gas producers can fetch a higher price by exporting their product rather than selling it domestically. As a result, there is a corresponding increase in domestic prices as supplies tighten. In other words, natural gas goes to the highest bidder, which makes it more expensive for consumers at home.


    Wall Street Journal: Australians' gas bills soar amid export boom

    OilPrice: Why U.S. should be cautious about LNG exports

    Reuters: Who took my gas? Australia's LNG boom hurts locals

  • There are several residential neighbourhoods located in close proximity to the proposed compressor station. Noise from the compressor station will impact all nearby homeowners, particularly at night when other ambient noise levels are reduced. This has been well documented for the existing Eagle Mountain compressor station in Coquitlam. The proposed location of this noisy compressor station so close to private dwellings in Squamish is unacceptable.

    Learn more about compressor station issues here.

  • Squamish's noise regulation bylaw states that "No owner or occupier of real property shall use or permit such property to be used so that noise, sound, or vibration emanating from the property disturbs or tends to disturb the quiet, peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity." The noise levels from the proposed compressor station do not comply with this bylaw.

    Squamish Noise Regulation Bylaw No. 2312, 2014

  • FortisBC's application states that "Land use plans and Official Community Plans (OCPs) provide guidance for land use." However, this project does not comply with Squamish's Official Community Plan (OCP) or the Squamish Estuary Management Plan (SEMP) which require our sensitive estuary habitat to be protected from industrial developments. FortisBC must find another location for both the pipeline route and the compressor station.


    Squamish Official Community Plan

    Squamish Estuary Management Plan

  • Squamish has limited employment lands. FortisBC's compressor station will employ just one person on 12 acres, while exposing nearby homes and businesses to the risk of a major industrial disaster. Shouldn’t we be making better use of our scarce industrial land?

    What is the cost of lost economic development potential given that this employment land is taken out of the pool of available land that could be used to create other industries with a much higher job ratio per acre? What is the overall impact on Squamish's ability for future economic development on the surrounding lands, given that new businesses or industries may not wish to locate so close to a dangerous compressor station? FortisBC must find another location for this compressor station that is not in the heart of our employment lands.

  • FortisBC's proposed high-pressure gas pipeline and compressor station, and the associated Woodfibre LNG project have already divided the community of Squamish, and created a lot of social unrest. Communities and Regional Districts around Howe Sound have also signaled strong opposition to the proposed Woodfibre LNG project by voting to ban tankers in Howe Sound and Georgia Strait, or to deny permits for FortisBC to drill test boreholes in the Squamish estuary. Squamish residents have been very clear that our estuary is sacrosanct. This project does not have the social license to proceed.

  • To supply the Woodfibre LNG plant in Howe Sound. If approved, this plant will liquefy the gas to -1620C and ship 2.1 million tones of Liquefied gas (LNG) to Asia every year, in 1000’-foot long LNG tankers.

  • Pipelines and compressor stations have a dismal record of occasionally blowing up/ catching fire, and injuring people.  The recent pipeline explosion outside Winnipeg and the unstoppable fire in the gas storage facility near Saskatoon are relevant examples. Unlikely – yes, but then, so was Lac Megantic.

  • Currently about 50%. However BC's conventional gas supply is being rapidly depleted which will mean 100% of our natural gas will be sourced by fracking in the near future.

  • Not quite - the new 24” pipe starts from well North of the Coquitlam Lake watershed. It proposes to add a 24” diameter pipe alongside the existing 10”/12” one that runs from Eagle Mountain compressor station through Squamish and onward to Vancouver Island.  That one was put there in the late ‘80s. It was very controversial then, because it threatened Metro Vancouver’s water supply.

  • The section through the Pipeline Road/ Coquitlam watershed was highly controversial when installed in 1990. It is controlled by Metro Vancouver’s water utility – that’s why the proposed twinning avoids this section.  For now, at least.

    The new pipe is 24” diameter (up from 20” in the earlier project description). This will twin the existing 10” pipe originating in Coquitlam, which is stepped up to 12” diameter through the Coquitlam Lake watershed, but is 10” thereafter all the way through to Vancouver Island. 

  • - The Eagle Mountain (Coquitlam) compressor station will be expanded to 40,000BHP (brake horsepower). It will be powered with a new BC Hydro power line to be installed across Eagle Mountain Public Park.

    - a new 15,000BHP (brake horsepower) compressor in Squamish. It too will be electric-powered.

    - a new gas-powered Port Mellon compressor scaled at 6,100BHP. Fortis says these are needed because of the expected large drawdown by the Woodfibre plant.

    Learn more about compressor station issues here.

  • Yes- maybe six times bigger, if Fortis gets permission to extend the proposed 24” pipeline all the way back to Coquitlam (maybe via Indian Arm – the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation). Six times the tanker traffic, air pollution and seawater use, risk of lethal accidents.

  • Pressure in the 25-year-old 10” pipe is currently at 2,160 lbs./ (about 147 times atmospheric pressure). The increased compressor power at Eagle Ridge will result in significantly increased pressure. How well the pipe can withstand this pressure without rupturing is a major question for Fortis.

  • No. The BC Government recently announced that it would set a new gas transmission rate – yet to be decided – to be charged to Woodfibre LNG for the use of the pipeline. That may not fully pay for this expansion or lower household gas rates.

  • Yes. A pipeline connected to a deep-water port may strike Kinder-Morgan as an easier alternative than ramming its proposed Trans Mountain pipeline through Burnaby. Fortis purchased this pipeline from Kinder Morgan’s subsidiary Terasen Gas in 2007.

    If this proposal goes ahead this gas pipeline could become an oil pipeline. This is an unacceptable risk.

  • Ask Fortis. Pipe quality is important for pipeline safety, as evidenced by Kinder-Morgan’s recent lawsuit over defective pipe supplied from India.

    Pipes for TransCanada's North Montney Mainline Project in the Peace River District of Alberta are currently being sourced from Baosteel in China and are being transported via Squamish Terminals.

  • No permanent jobs will be created by this pipeline. The application is unclear about what the local taxes Fortis will pay in regard to this pipeline.