Two of the maps filed by the LNG Canada project with provincial and federal environmental assessment agencies look at the air quality problems from the project, including the controversial prospect of cumulative problems from multiple industrial projects in the Kitimat Valley, one of them the RTA Kitimat Modernization Project which will increase sulphur dioxide emissions while decreasing some other emissions.
One map covers what is being called the airshed, in the case of LNG Canada, air quality will be assessed with the LNG facility at its centre. A second map covers the tanker route, and as well as a 40 km square grid around the plant that will also assess Hartley Bay, Kitkatla and Metalkatia which may be impacted by vessel emissions.
As well as scientific data, the assessment will also take into consideration traditional knowledge and traditional use from “aboriginal and other groups.”
The possible cumulative effect on the air quality in the Kitimat valley and surrounding areas has prompted the BC government to commission its own study of the Kitimat airshed.
On Oct 3, the provincial ministries of the environment and gas development announced a $650,000 scientific study “to help inform regulatory and policy development for future industrial activity in the Kitimat area. The goal is to ensure the potential impacts from industrial air emissions are clearly understood prior to new projects being approved and in operation.”
The Kitimat Airshed Impact Assessment Project will look at the cumulative effects of existing and proposed industrial air emissions in the airshed. These include emissions from: an existing aluminium smelter, three proposed LNG terminals, a proposed oil refinery, a crude-oil export facility, and gas-turbine-powered electrical generation facilities. The study will focus on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from these facilities.
The study will assess the impact of emissions through a number of scenarios, including their potential effects on water and soil, as well as on vegetation and human health from direct exposure.
An airshed is generally described as an area where the movement of air (and, therefore, air pollutants) can be hindered by local geographical features such as mountains, and by weather conditions. The most obvious example in British Columbia is a mountain valley. Since air pollution knows no political boundaries, airshed activities may be focused on a single community or on a number of neighbouring communities faced with similar air quality problems and requiring similar action.
The LNG Canada assessment will look at two potential adverse effects, first a change in ambient air quality in the Kitimat airshed or along the marine access route and second any change in acidic deposition pattern in the Kitimat Valley.
The first study will look specifically at estimated levels of “criteria air contaminets” including sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, atmospheric particulate matter and hydrogen sulphide. The particulate matter study will use the international standard of 2.5 micrometres.
The assessment will also study possible cumulative effects on air quality of multiple projects and those projects over time.