LAST CHANCE! Deadline midnight tonight, 23rd March, 2015
Time is running out! The second public comment period for the Environmental Assessments for Woodfibre LNG is rapidly approaching its deadline. This is the last chance for you to get involved and have your say about this project.
Your input is critical! It can be as simple as stating your concerns and WHY you are opposed to the project, however, specific questions related to Woodfibre LNG’s application have more weight. You can also copy and paste from the list of key concerns below. This is one of your only opportunities to hold Woodfibre LNG accountable and stop this project!
Submit your comments here by March 23rd, 2015
Say why you are opposed to Woodfibre LNG
Copy and paste the key concerns below
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List of key concerns with Woodfibre LNG's application
We have compiled a list of our key concerns with Woodfibre LNG's application below. Please feel free to cut and paste as many of these as you'd like to include. You can submit comments as many times as you like.
SAFETY: Siting an LNG facility in Howe Sound violates international safety standards and practices, putting Howe Sound residents at risk
As LNG tankers transit Howe Sound, there is a high-danger zone for 1,600 metres (1-mile) on either side of the LNG tanker. If an accident happens, people within this zone risk death by asphyxiation, or death/injury by fire or explosion. Every time a tanker travels through Howe Sound (approximately 6-8 transits a month according to Woodfibre LNG) several Howe Sound communities will be in that high-danger zone, including: Bowen Island, Bowyer Island, Anvil Island, Passage Island, Porteau Cove, West Vancouver, and parts of the Sea to Sky highway. The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) LNG Terminal Siting Standards states that LNG terminals should not be located in narrow, inland waterways with dense local populations and significant commercial, recreational, and ferry traffic. Why would that guideline not apply to Howe Sound? The proposed siting of the Woodfibre LNG terminal and associated transit of LNG tankers through Howe Sound poses an unacceptable risk to safety of people in communities along the shores of Howe Sound.
Sources: Sandia Report, 2004 and SIGTTO LNG Terminal Siting Standards
ENVIRONMENT: The once-through seawater cooling system proposed by Woodfibre LNG is outdated
Woodfibre LNG is proposing an outdated and damaging cooling method to help cool the LNG facility. They propose to extract 17,000 tonnes (= 3.7 million gallons, or 7 Olympic-sized 50-meter swimming pools) of seawater from Howe Sound, chlorinate it, heat it, and then spit it back out into the sound every hour of every day for the next 25 years. This method has been banned in California and several other places as it is very damaging to marine life such as juvenile salmon, herring, and plankton which are the building blocks for all other life in Howe Sound. If the herring are impacted, the dolphins, orcas, and humpbacks are also impacted as they no longer have a food supply. The impacts of increased water temperatures and the addition of chlorinated seawater will likely reverse the recent revival of marine life in Howe Sound, which is just now recovering from the toxic legacies of previous industries. This is unacceptable.
HEALTH: Social costs and health impacts of air pollution
Woodfibre LNG is estimating air pollution emissions of 295.7 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 43.8 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) every year (See Table 5.2-14 of the Air Quality Section of Woodfibre LNG’s environmental assessment application). Emissions of NOx and SO2 interact with other compounds to form fine particles, which can affect both the lungs and the heart. Exposure to these particles is linked to increased risk of respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing; decreased lung function; aggravated asthma; onset of chronic bronchitis; irregular heartbeat; nonfatal heart attacks; and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. A new study published in the scientific journal, Climatic Change, estimates the true social costs of air pollution that aren’t accounted for in the cost of fossil fuels and other pollutants. Social costs include the health impacts of air pollution as well as impacts from climate change. The study found that sulfur dioxide costs $42,000 per tonne, and nitrous oxides cost $67,000 per tonne. Sources:
Mills et al (2009) Adverse cardiovascular effects of air pollution. Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine 6: 36-44
Shindell (2015) The social costs of atmospheric release. Climatic Change
SITE SUITABILITY: The Woodfibre site is not a safe location for a hazardous LNG facility
On February 15th, 2015, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake hit Vancouver's coast that was felt throughout Howe Sound. The Woodfibre LNG proposal is located within this zone of moderate to high earthquake risk, on two known thrust faults. The Woodfibre site also has a history of slope failure. In 1955 a wharf and three warehouses collapsed into Howe Sound at the Woodfibre site, causing $500,000 – $750,000 in damages (Bornhold, B.D., 1983, Fiords, GEOS, no. 1, p 1-4). A recent, but unreleased, geotechnical study by Knight Piesold identifies that approximately 46% of the study area was mapped as having rapid mass movement. This means landslides and slope slumpage... including existing natural landslide hazards as well as terrain where construction activity may increase landslide initiation. Why hasn't the geotechnical study by Knight Piesold been released?
Bornhold, B.D., 1983, Fiords, GEOS, no. 1, p 1-4
B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines
ECONOMY: The requested socio-economic study has not been provided
During construction, only 4.3% of jobs (=38.5 out of 895) will be for locals living in the Squamish/Whistler corridor (See Table 6.2-8 of the Labour Market section of Woodfibre LNG’s environmental assessment application). Why are there so few jobs predicted to be filled by workers in the Squamish/SLRD area? The EA application is also very unclear about how many of the 100 full-time jobs will be filled by residents of Howe Sound once the LNG terminal is operational. What are the benefits to Squamish? What are the costs? There is still no clarity around how much in municipal taxes will be paid to the District of Squamish. How will this project impact existing small businesses and existing industries in Howe Sound?
CLIMATE CHANGE: 142 thousand tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions is unacceptable
Woodfibre LNG is now estimating greenhouse gas emissions to be 142 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year. These annual emissions of CO2 equivalent from Woodfibre LNG is equal to adding over 18,000 cars to the highway, driving to Vancouver and back, every day. This is more than six times greater than current highway traffic. It is irresponsible to approve this kind of polluting industry at a time when we need to transition away from fossil fuels to mitigate the risks associated with climate change, and to reduce the economic and health impacts of air pollution in general.
GOVERNMENT REGULATION: Inability of government to monitor, enforce, and respond to issues
There are no regulations adopted to regulate this LNG industry from a technical standpoint. Any of the current standards are not applicable to the LNG industry. Do the regulators have the knowledge and the expertise and the capacity to oversee this industry or will they be relying on the proponent to monitor themselves and report to the regulator? Self-monitoring industries have created several examples of accidents with resulting environmental destruction in recent years, including the Lac Megantic rail disaster and the Mt Polley tailing pond spill.
ENVIRONMENT: Removal of water from Mill Creek unsustainable for fish life
Woodfibre LNG has secured the water license to extract water from Mill Creek, which flows through the Woodfibre site. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has objected to this because the amount of water that WLNG is proposing to remove will reduce water levels in Mill Creek to levels that will no longer support fish life, especially in the summer months. Woodfibre LNG needs to source water for this project from somewhere else to protect this important stream habitat which is home to several native fish species.
ENVIRONMENT: Missing baseline studies
The following baseline studies are either missing or are inadequate as they do not conform to any recognized scientific standards: fish, birds, marine mammals, air quality, shipping, water quality, marine sound, and atmospheric sound, marine life near the Woodfibre site, and the cumulative impact assessment. Proper studies need to be completed before any decisions can be made regarding this project.
VIEWSCAPES: BC Hydro clearcut of two 64 metre swaths of forest at the Woodfibre site will impact viewscapes from the Sea to Sky highway and the gondola
BC Hydro is proposing to clearcut two 64 metre swaths of forest at the Woodfibre site which will create visible scars in the Howe Sound viewscape which will be very visible from the highway and the gondola. This information was only made available during the recent BC Hydro open house held on 19th March, near the end of the public comment period. This information is not included in the cumulative impact assessment of the Woodfibre application and it should be. This late release of information pertinent to this project and the timing of the BC Hydro open houses is unsatisfactory.
ENVIRONMENT: 9000 year old glass sponge reefs endangered by tanker traffic
LNG tankers do not have enough clearance to get over the 9000 year old reef if they go off course. These 9000 year old glass sponge reefs have been called "Living Fossils" by National Geographic as until recently this species was thought to have gone extinct over 60 million years ago. MLA Jordan Sturdy recently made a statement in the House about the importance of this discovery in Halkett Bay near Gambier Island, and to support the proposal to expand the Provincial Park Protected Area to ensure these reefs are protected.
ENVIRONMENT: Will there be smog? Will there be a smell?
Woodfibre LNG is estimating air pollution emissions of 295.7 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 43.8 tonnes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) every year (See Table 5.2-14 of the Air Quality Section of Woodfibre LNG’s environmental assessment application).
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is a reddish-brown gas with a pungent, irritating odour. It absorbs light and leads to the yellow-brown “smog” pollution haze seen hanging over cities. It is known to irritate the lungs and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In combination with either ozone (O3) or sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide may cause injury at even lower concentration levels.
Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating, and rotten smell. Current scientific evidence links short-term exposures to SO2, ranging from 5 minutes to 24 hours, with an array of adverse respiratory effects including bronchoconstriction and increased asthma symptoms. These effects are particularly important for asthmatics at elevated ventilation rates (e.g., while exercising or playing). Studies also show a connection between short-term exposure and increased visits to emergency departments and hospital admissions for respiratory illnesses, particularly in at-risk populations including children, the elderly, and asthmatics. The addition of these air pollutants in Howe Sound is of particular concern as recent research by MSc student Annie Seagram (studying under Professor Douw Steyn, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia) has shown that the Howe Sound airshed and Lower Fraser Valley airshed are connected. Emissions from Woodfibre LNG will add to the pollution in Howe Sound, exacerbating the existing air quality conditions, particularly in the Squamish-Brackendale corridor.
Note that Metro Vancouver annually issues several Air Quality Advisories due to high concentrations of ground-level ozone. This pollution also impacts the Howe Sound and Squamish, and exposure to these pollutants are of particular concern for infants, the elderly, and is directly linked to health issues such as lung or heart disease and asthma.
If you have any questions, contact Michael Shepard, the Project Assessment Manager for both the Woodfibre LNG project, and the Fortis BC pipeline from Eagle Mountain to Coquitlam.
Project Assessment Manager
Environmental Assessment Office