LNG plants do kill salmon, Russian scientists warn BC

A BC sockeye salmon spawning (Stan Probocsz/Watershed Watch)
A BC sockeye salmon spawning (Stan Probocsz/Watershed Watch)

The red flags keep popping up for BC’s vaunted LNG plans. Last week, Shell became the latest company to put its final investment decision for a proposed plant in Kitimat on hold due to the collapse of the global export market. This week, a draft federal environmental report on Petronas’ proposed Lelu Island project – while not going far enough, critics charge – confirms it would carry “significant adverse environmental effects”, including climate issues. Now, a group of Russian scientists is kicking off a tour of northern BC to warn British Columbians about the very real impacts these projects can have on wild salmon.

None of this has fazed LNG’s biggest cheerleader, Christy Clark, who maintains her Liberal government is “sticking to its guns” on LNG. One can only hope such statements don’t prove literal, with the plethora of aboriginal resistance camps and a growing citizen movement to block her plans. Our premier may not heed these warnings, but British Columbians who care about preserving our already beleaguered salmon runs would do well to.

LNG plant likely connected declining salmon run

Three Russian scientists and a noted conservationist speak from direct experience when they caution us about the effects these plants can have on wild salmon. The group hails from Sakhalin Island, which, according to a media release on a talk they’re giving today, is “the only place in the world that has an existing LNG facility operating in a wild salmon estuary.”

The project, built in 2009 by Shell but now operated by Russian energy giant Gazprom, has coincided with a “severe decline” of what was once the third largest pink salmon run in the world, in Avina Bay. They’ve studied the situation extensively and are here to report on their findings – namely that the collapse can be attributed to activities associated with the plant, including dredging, light, and noise pollution. They see the potential for a repeat of these unfortunate circumstances if the Trudeau government approves Petronas’ project, which sits amidst vital estuary habitat for Skeena River salmon.

Russian project similar to Lelu Island

Sakhalin Island and Lelu Island have two things in common – wild salmon and LNG. My Canadian colleagues invited me, along with three Russian scientists, to share our experience of the environmental impacts of the Sakhalin II LNG project, which has been in operation for 10 years on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean”, said Dimitry Lisitsyn, member of the Russian delegation and Director of Sakhalin Environment Watch.

[quote]We have a chance to help the people of the Skeena watershed protect one of the most famous and rich wild salmon sanctuaries in the world. With the dramatic decline of our wild salmon, I really hope this will not be replicated in the Skeena estuary. [/quote]

These concerns echo those raised by independent scientists, local First Nations and conservation groups since details of the project emerged several years ago. A report paid for by the proponent, which dismissed concerns about impacts on wild salmon, has come under heavy criticism as junk science.

The Russian scientists, at the invitation of First Nations and conservation groups in the Skeena region, will present their concerns and science to a number of communities across the north and in Vancouver over the next week.

Federal review needs to address salmon

Meanwhile, conservation groups and First Nations have voiced concerns with the recently published draft environmental report from the federal review panel for ignoring salmon issues, though it did tackle the carbon footprint of the project and impacts on other marine life, particularly harbour porpoises. Opponents of the project are pressing for the final report to include these salmon concerns – a plea which should be buoyed by the Russian scientists’ visit.


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

16 thoughts on “LNG plants do kill salmon, Russian scientists warn BC

  1. This is the most quietist way of Exterminating a race of people. They can sleep will they doing this!!!!! The question is are you stupid are what? Know that they are trying to wipe out the salmon so that we will starve.

  2. What part of “UNEMOCONOMICAL” do these dickheads not understand? There is NO market for LNG now. Or in the foreseeable future.
    If they are so hell bent to create a non-industry, ship it up the MacKenzie River Basin. There is already an approved route! Ship it out of Tuktoyuktut. Its colder, closer and there’s already an abundance of the stuff there. If you’re determined to go broke, do it somewhere other than our North West coast. And take Chrispy with you!

    1. And if the gas is so plentiful and wonderful for the planet, why not use it here in BC as a transport fuel? If it’s in BC, we own it.

  3. Its interesting that the different levels of govt. and industry seem to cherry pick the results of any report to either justify their positions of to denigrate the opposers.

    So I’m doing the same.
    The link to the excellent article critisizing pro LNG reports as junk science had one line in it that really stood out.

    “But the B.C. government’s gold-rush approach to LNG development…..”

    That says it all.

    Old style politics rushing in to push a mega project that gives the govt of the day the opportunity to stand at a podium and declare “Jobs!, Tax revenue! Its “Green” so its all good!”
    All while wrapping their faces and their political “brand” so tightly with a project that they cant admit their wrong…….even if irrefutable evidence proves their wrong.
    Image is everything.
    What they either forget or dont care about is the financial and environmental ramifications for YEARS afterwards.
    Site C may bankrupt BC Hydro so prepare for multi year rate increases folks. LNG may be cleaner to burn than bitumen when (not if) a pipeline bursts or a tanker sinks.
    But dont tell the farmers or towns that cant drink their own groundwater because of fracking pollutants that “natural” gas is ‘green”. They’ll claw your eyes out.

    The “forces of No”?
    The general public have been lied to by govt. and industry AND been caught lying for so many issues over so many years their credibility is zero.
    No matter how many advertisement campaigns they purchase the main stream media’s silence with.
    The “Forces of No”.
    More like healthy debate with an educated public.
    Something most politicians (especially Christy Clark) dont want.
    Justin Trudeau better wake up to this irresponsible “gold rush” mentality that seems all pervasive with the BC Socreds ( sorry Liberals) and start dealing with a provincial govt that is breaking federal fisheries laws with seeming impunity.

    One more year to the election.
    May the force of No be with us.

    1. Not only will LNG erase BC’s debt and make us all rich, it will save the world by cleaning up the atmosphere.

      We know this because our government told us.

  4. It is very depressing to have a premier who is determined to leave a legacy project for no other reason than her own self-importance and self-absorption. Her son will grow up knowing that it was his mom’s pig-headedness that ruined huge tracts of land and water. The fact that these projects and Site C can be pushed through for such short term ends is really sad.

    She is not a leader, she is a narcissist who only likes people who tell her how great she is, and she carefully promotes those sycophants who help her bulldoze over the compassionate, caring and logical people who truly love this province and all the life within it.

    Very sad state of affairs.

  5. I have no proof, no links, no scientific background but I’d be willing to bet fifty cents the IPP have the same effect on fish as the featured LNG plant has had.

    It is only fair to tell you, I’m one of Christie’s “no people” where IPP and fish feedlots are concerned. Corporations are playing Silly Buggers with the very foundation of the once-rich life of our oceans.

    They come, they make a whack of profit, they go and leave the mess for us to try to clean.

    I’d love a tee shirt with “Bugger Off!” on it!!!

  6. Well, I’m not from BC, but visit relatives in Penticton.

    Your premier Clark is nominally a Liberal, but strikes me as a Socred in outlook. Strange and dimwitted, she also seems to run BC Hydro without a Public Utilities Commission like we have here. They are an equal opportunity disser of all government rampages, no matter the party, here in NS. Must have inhibited her so much she got rid of that function in BC, from what little I’ve read.

    Good Luck in getting someone that absorbed in themself to listen to a differing point-of-view, when she’s swaggering about thinking how wonderful she is.

    1. Bill,
      Very well observed, you nailed our fine premier. It’s a bit like trying to tell Donald Trump he has bad hair! Welcome to BC hope you have a great visit.

    2. She is a LINO, Liberal In Name Only. As was Gordon Campbell. It is just a useful name for the neo-con party since they screwed the province under the BC COCRED label.

    3. Premier Smiley Face and company certainly aren’t Liberals. They were so close to the Harper Conservatives that there was something of a revolving door between the two organizations. Harper gave retired Premier Campbell the plumest appointment in the foreign service, that being Canadian High Commissioner to the UK. This is notable for Harper wouldn’t give someone a job in the Parliamentary Cafeteria unless they were staunch supporters.

      Ever so interestingly, they appear to be rebranding themselves as ‘real’ Liberals recently. They are nothing more than the political vehicle of the oligarchy that is B.C.

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