LNG tankers in Fraser River? Brief chance to comment on sneaky project

Existing courtesy Fortis BC LNG plant in Fraser River (courtesy of Eoghan Moriarty/RealHearings.org)
Fortis LNG compression station near Fraser River (beige tank)  – courtesy of Eoghan Moriarty/RealHearings.org

The following is republished with permission from The ECOReport.

by Roy Hales

UPDATE: Following complaints that the CEAA email system for public comments on the project has been out of commission throughout the 20-day comment period, the window for feedback has been extended until June 24

The National Energy Board has already granted an export license, to US based WesPac Midstream, for a facility that could bring up to 120 LNG tankers and 90 LNG barges into the Fraser River every year.  The public’s opportunity to make their concerns known ends June 11. There are only eight days to comment on Delta’s proposed LNG terminal (WesPack Tilbury Marine Jetty).

Thought it was a joke

Voters Taking Action On Climate Change (VTACC) sent out an alert after seeing a notice about the proposed LNG facility on the British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office’s (BC EAO) website.

The first notice MLA Andrew Weaver, of BC’s Green party, received was an email  from the ECOreport, “I thought it was a joke, a spoof on LNG. It is remarkable that this is potentially going ahead. The Tilbury facility is there already to provide natural gas at peak times in the Lower Mainland, or there are little communities here or there that need natural gas.

He added:

[quote]But the proposal to have up to 120 LNG tankers and 90 LNG barges a year is just truly remarkable. What has it come to that we are starting to see these massive fossil fuel projects being brought forward with days to have any input on? I’m an MLA in the province of British Columbia. I read a lot. I’m pretty much up on what is going on in the province and I have eight days notice )about the WesPack Tilbury project) because you emailed me about it![/quote]

The ECOreport also attempted to contact the provincial NDP critic for natural gas development, who was not available to comment.

CEAA “sent out a press release”

A spokesperson from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) said they sent out a news release on May 22.  She said there will not be another opportunity for the public to comment unless the CEAA decides an environmental assessment is necessary.

Wespac Plan
Access Trestle And Loading Platform Design from WesPac Tilbury Marine Jetty Project Project Description CEAA Summary

In the CEAA project description, it says “WesPac is committed to ongoing consultation and engagement with Aboriginal groups that are interested in the Project.” Both the Musqueam and Tsawwassen have signed agreements and WesPac is in discussions with several other First Nations. They also provided a list of First Nations that have no yet responded to their queries:

  • Hwlitsum;
  • Lake Cowichan;
  • Lyackson;
  • Semiahmoo;
  • Squamish;
  • Seabird Island First Nation;
  • Shxw’ow’hamel First Nation;
  • Skawahlook;
  • Soowahlie First Nation;
  • Stó:lō Nation;
  • Stó:lō Tribal Council;
  • and Tsawout First Nation.

BC’s existing LNG facilities

BC has two existing LNG facilities, both owned by FortisBC. Tilbury LNG Facility, next to the proposed WesPack site, is 43 years old. Fortis began a $400 million expansion project last October. This adds 1.1 million gigajoules of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to storage and 34,000 gigajoules per day of liquefaction capacity. Another LNG facility opened near Ladysmith in 2011.

WesPac aims to start construction next year

Premier Christy Clark’s government appears to endorse this project. A notice on their website proclaims, “The WesPac LNG marine terminal will provide a means of loading LNG onto carrier ships for export.” BC’s Environmental Assessment Office has requested that it be allowed tosubstitute a provincial revue for the federal process.

WesPack expects to start construction of its’ terminal next year. It will take 15 months to build the WesPack Tilbury Marine Jetty and they expect it to be operational for at least 30 years.

Project Shipping Route from WesPac Tilbury Marine Jetty Project Project Description CEAA Summary
Project Shipping Route from WesPac Tilbury Marine Jetty Project Project Description CEAA Summary

One of the proposed domestic customers is BC ferries, which has ordered three LNG fueled ferries that can accommodate 145 vehicles and 600 passengers.

Weaver said, “BC ferries has suggested is it will provide with the new ships to LNG power instead of diesel. It is cleaner, it is a domestic market for a domestic product. I’m totally for that, but you just need a small capacity for that. If Fortis and others would come to people and say, ‘look BC ferries wants to start using LNG. We need to provide a fueling station for it and this is how we propose to do it.’ You could build a social license from a project like that.””

Barges of up 4,000 m of LNG capacity will service coastal communities through-out the regional market.

Much larger LNG carriers, meant for foreign markets, have up to 90,000 m of capacity. They can tie up at the Marine Jetty for up to eight days, but will normally depart after 24 to 48 hours.

LNG terminal absurd

Kevin Washbrook, director with VTACC, thinks it is absurd to build an LNG terminal on the Fraser River.

“I think once enough people become aware the push-back will be so high, and the assessment so rigorous,  that it will be easy to say this makes no sense. Just on the siting of the review process and the lack of a proper assessment of the location, I think there are reasons for everyone to be concerned about this project. Even LNG supporters accept that you have to be careful about where you put these things,” he said.

Weaver agrees:

[quote]Anybody who claims these days that a major infrastructure , or resource project, is a done deal need not look much further than some of the projects around British Columbia that have run into resistance. Not the least of which is the Enbridge (Northern Gateway) pipeline or the implications of the recent Tsilhqot’in decision with respect to resource projects on First Nations land.[/quote]

Business done respectfully

BC Green MLA Andrew Weaver
BC Green MLA Andrew Weaver

Weaver insists, “British Columbians are fed up with being treated disrespectfully, things being ramrodded down their throats in terms of a top down push to governance.”

This is not a lesson the Canadian or British Columbian governments appear to have learned.

“Is British Columbia open for business? Absolutely, but business done respectfully – not irresponsibly like we are seeing here, with little attempt to actually engage the public. I wonder how many people living along the Fraser River even know about this?” said Weaver.

Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute said, “It is disturbing that a project of this scale could potentially be approved without an environmental assessment. In addition to being a large industrial facility in the Lower Mainland, it would also necessitate an expansion of shale gas wells, roads and pipelines in northeast B.C. It should absolutely go through an environmental assessment process. And while environmental assessments in Canada have serious flaws, conducting one would at least ensure the WesPac proposal undergoes the same scrutiny as other LNG proposals around the province.”

“A loud public response in the next few days is needed to ensure this LNG proposal receives the careful assessments our region deserves,” said Washbrook. “Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq should commit to a federal panel review for this project, and she should reject BC’s request to substitute a provincial review.  Given the BC government’s clear bias in favour of LNG exports, handing this over to the province would be like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house.”

(Click on this link to access a form where you can ask federal Environment Min Aglukkaq to 1) conduct an assessment of this project and 2) reject BC’s request to substitute a provincial assessment instead.)

Top Photo Credit: The Fortis LNG compression station is located at the middle of the photo (beige storage tank). The LNG terminal would be located immediately downstream (to the right) and the vessels would load where the old wooden pilings are in the river – courtesy Eoghan Moriarty | RealHearings.org


13 thoughts on “LNG tankers in Fraser River? Brief chance to comment on sneaky project

  1. The white elephant with LNG is that the Natural Gas to be liquified is obtained via fracking. Fracking means pumping huge amounts of ground water plus a toxic chemical list of ingredients into fissures to extract the gas. The now permanently contaminated groundwater plus the noxious off-gassing during this process are an environmental nightmare, there is nothing ‘green’ about how we obtain this fuel, and there are a lot of questions about the compression process as well. Please inform yourself about fracking before you make any decisions about LNG, because none of the authorities are addressing there issues together, which is not an oversight, but a purposeful subversion of this whole process to enable these LNG projects to be rammed through without appropriate scrutiny.

  2. What a time we live in , indeed. We have the knowledge, the know how. The facts even and especially , yet still our Harper government keeps pushing more lies for truth. Thereis no doubt the environmental damage amounting is at catastrophic levels, yet you keep pushing more disasters just waiting to happen. We happens when you go to far? We citizens need the Liberal party to stand down! Enough is enough, we cannot afford to have “these people ” looking out for our best interests. They have no interest in us!

  3. the profound impact and horror that one 1 accident could cause in all the area, should be enough to not even look at this” project” and throw it on the …dustbin

  4. I don’t think Governments (Federal and Provincial) are realizing that Canadians are becoming angry – very, very angry – at Politicians treating the environment and themselves with such disdain. In this age of social media, it is becoming less and less easy for Governments to hoodwink the electorate – especially in regard to pipelines and LNG facilities.

    This latest LNG project on the Fraser River is just spitting in the face of the people!!

  5. Talk about over-reaction sky is falling type rhetoric from this group. Get a grip for Christ sakes the world will not end if this project or others go through.
    Your BANANA mentality is ridiculous….Who cares if VTAAC thinks this project is ‘absurd’ you represent a tiny minority of constant complainers just like this not so common sense Canadian site.

    1. Keith, the issue here is whether this project even merits an environmental review. You honestly think it doesn’t? None? Are you aware of the safety risks associated with LNG tankers in narrow passages and dense population centres? Here’s a little food for thought before you shoot your mouth off at justifiably concerned citizens (and we’ll see just how tiny a minority this proves to be once more people find out about this sneaky scheme):


    2. Keith, I am baffled as to why if you are of this opinion, did you find yourself here?
      Did those who sent you mention the requirements for safe passage of one of these tankers? Do you have any inkling about the danger they present?
      Rest assured Keith that if there was a mishap in this inlet, and an explosion occurred, then the world would end on that day for many!

    3. Talk about over-reaction sky is falling type rhetoric from you Keith. Get a grip for Christ sakes the world will not end if this project doesn’t go through.
      Your CARROT mentality is ridiculous….Who cares if you think this project is ‘great’, you represent a tiny minority of greedy people just like our not so Canadian Prime Minister.

    4. Keith – I grew-up watching my river be killed by a giant corporation. No government, no company has the right to endanger our environment. This project will damage our environment. The process to acquire LNG has destroyed and is destroying our environment. It is time people like you take your head out of the sand and value what we have now.’

  6. Visit http://reallnghearings.org/ to learn more about this preposterous plan and send in your comments to the federal environment minister. Please ask her to 1) commit to a full federal environmental assessment of this project, by panel review, and 2) reject BC’s request for assessment substitution. This review should NOT be handed over to BC — that would be like putting the foxes in charge of the hen house.

  7. The new word for politician is polluter. That is all this government seems to be doing to our environment. Destroying Burnaby Mountain and now the mighty Fraser. I wish we the public had some sort of recourse to kick this supposed politician out (Christy Clark).

    1. The entire Liberal party needs to step down. Integrity is not what they’re about. Corruption is.

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