Special report: Clio Bay cleanup: Controversial, complicated and costly
Here is the text of a statement Chevron spokesperson Gillian Robinson Riddell sent to Northwest Coast Energy News
The Clio Bay Restoration Project proposed by Chevron, is planned to get underway sometime in early 2014. The proposal is fully supported by the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Haisla First Nation Council. The project has been put forward as the best option for removal of the marine clay that is being excavated from the Kitimat LNG site at Bish Cove. Chevron hired Stantec, an independent engineering and environmental consulting firm with extensive experience in many major habitat restoration projects that involve public safety and environmental conservation. The Haisla, along with Stantec’s local marine biologists, identified Clio Bay as a site that has undergone significant environmental degradation over years of accumulation of underwater wood debris caused by historic log-booming operations. The proposal put forward by the marine biologists was that restoration of the marine ecosystem in the Bay could be achieved if marine clay from Chevron’s facility site, was used to cover the woody debris at the bottom of the Bay. The process outlined by the project proposal is designed to restore the Clio Bay seafloor to its original soft substrate that could sustain a recovery of biological diversity.
In preparing this restoration project proposal for Chevron, Stantec conducted independent field studies carried out by their own marine biologists who are registered with BC College of Applied Biology. Two of the studies used in the development of the proposed project were previously published scientific studies on the effects of log-boom activity and log boom activity in Clio Bay that determined log boom and storage activity has had a negative impact on marine diversity. There are previous case studies where capping activity has been used in marine environments.
Stantec’s, and previous studies, have determined that Clio Bay has changed from a once highly productive marine bay characterized by plentiful predatory species such as Dungeness Crab and sunflower stars to a less productive environment hosting more opportunistic and resilient species such as squat lobster and sea anemones. One such study found that compared to Eagle Bay, which has not been affected by logging activity had five times the Dungeness Crab population of Clio Bay. Independent studies conducted before Chevron began working at Bish Cove found that if Clio Bay is left in its current degraded condition, the woody debris will continue to foster and abnormal, species-deficient habitat for several decades. Extensive fieldwork carried out by Stantec’s marine biologists used SCUBA and Remote Operated Vehicle surveys to observe and record all flora and fauna in the bay and its levels of abundance. Stantec’s observations echoed the previous studies which determined that the massive amount of wood has harmed Clio Bay’s habitat and ecosystem.
Most importantly, when considering the work Chevron is proposing to carry out in Clio Bay, it is important to note that a primary objective of all Chevron’s operations is to protect people and the environment. A good example of how we have done that on other projects can be seen in the construction of Chevron’s Gorgon LNG plant in Australia on Barrow Island, which is a Class A nature reserve. Although identified as one of the most important wildlife refuges in the world, and the site was chosen only after a thorough assessment of the viability of other potential locations, and after the implementation of extensive mitigation measures, including a vigorous quarantine program for all equipment and materials brought on to the Barrow island site to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful alien species. Those same high environmental standards are being applied to the Kitimat LNG project and the proposed Clio Bay Restoration project. The proposed work would be carried out with a stringent DFO approved operational plan in place and would be overseen by qualified environmental specialists on-site.