LNG Canada has chosen CFSW LNG Constructors, a consortium of four engineering companies Constructors as its main contractor for Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) as well as project execution services for the proposed liquified natural gas export facility.
The contractors will begin FEED activities for the LNG Canada project on June 1, 2014.
Final go ahead is still subject to a Final Investment Decision which will come, yay or nay, sometime in the next couple of years.
One of the partners in CFSW familiar to Kitimat residents is WorleyParsons.(company website) Others are Chiyoda, a Japanese company specializing largely in LNG construction (Chiyoda website in Japanese), Foster Wheeler, an international company with expertise in LNG, off shore oil and similar projects and SAIPEM an Italian based engineering company again with energy industry expertise.
The announcement was made at the LNG Canada facility at the old Methanex office building in Kitimat. Company representatives, members of council and representatives of the Haisla Nation, including Chief Sammy Robinson were at the ceremony.
LNG Canada’s Susannah Pierce said, subject to the final investment decision, Shell and its partners “We want to make this the first LNG project out of British Columbia, serving the energy needs of Asia.” (repeating a similar statement she made in November 2013 at the environmental assessment open house .)
Wim Ravesloot, LNG Canada Project Director said one of the reasons for choosing the consortium was “experience in developing modular construction.”
Rio Tinto Alcan’s Kitimat Modernization project is also highly dependent on modular construction, with many components of the new aluminum smelter are produced in China, brought to Kitimat and then used to create the new potlines and related facilities. Publisher David Black also recently told Kitimat audiences that the reason for the possible location of his refinery near Kitimat, rather than Alberta, is due to the need for large scale modular construction.
“So we are here today to make a statement that we are here to deliver our project in a safe way without any incidents and with out having any impact on the environment.” Raveslook said. “We also want to make a statement that we want to develop this project responsibly with close cooperation with the local people that live here in this town, in the village, here in Haisla lands where we are a guest and hopefully in the future as a respected neighbor.”
Pierce introduced two documents that outlined what she said is LNG Canada’s commitments to the community.
The first said:
LNG Canada is committed to an approach that the First Nations and local communities in the northwest realize economic benefits from this project. These benefits may come in the form of direct employment opportunities for qualified workers and potential contract opportunities for competitive businesses. Most of the employment and contract opportunities during the construction phase will be through CFSW….as a result CFSW and LNG Canada is committed to work together so that local residents can become qualified to work for LNG including investing in skills training, developing long ter partnerships with local education and training facilities in the region to develop and maintain a skilled workforce to support LNG development….a key component of this contract with the community is for you to develop the skills and training for sustainable employment at this project when it proceeds.
The second concerned Health, safety and the environment.
Health, safety and environment is integral in everything at LNG Canada. Our HSE objectives are Goal Zero, meaning no harm to people, no uncontrolled releases to the environment. We comply with life saving rules we respect and care for people and the environment. We are engaged, committed and lead by example. We set clear expectations for staff and contractors. We communicate openly and honestly, encouraging everyone to speak up. We are learning organization with a focus on continuous improvement. We hold each other accountable, share information and celebrate success.
LNG Canada says it will now continue to gather information and complete studies in support of developing our Environmental Assessment Application.
The company intends submit to the Environmental Assessment Application to the the B.C. EAO later this year.
LNG Canada will hold its next public meeting, an “LNG Demonstration and Presentation” on March 6, 2014 at the Mount Elizabeth Theatre starting at 6 p.m. The company says the event is to “to share information and answer questions about liquefied natural gas (LNG).” Starting at 7 pm there will be a a live demonstration using LNG to explain the science behind liquefaction and the properties of LNG.
For more information about the project’s EA process, www.eao.gov.bc.ca and look for our project under the “Proposed EAs” sections.
The other partners in the LNG Canada project are Diamond LNG Canada, an (“affiliate” of Mitsubishi), Korea Gas Corporation and Phoenix Energy (an “affiliate” of PetroChina).
On January 16, Fisheries and Oceans issued a statement “clarifying” its role after signing an agreement with the National Energy Board on fisheries protection along pipeline routes, saying DFO “remains responsible for fisheries protection, including the issuance of Fisheries Act authorizations.”
DFO says there is little difference between its agreement with the NEB and collaborative agreements with the provinces.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has established a collaborative agreement with the National Energy Board that will help eliminate overlap and duplication during regulatory reviews while maintaining a strong regime to manage threats to fish and fish habitat.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada remains responsible for fisheries protection, including the issuance of Fisheries Act authorizations.
Our collaborative arrangement builds on the decades of training, experience and expertise of NEB biologists in assessing the potential environmental impacts of development projects, including regarding fish and fish habitat.
These arrangements will yield a number of benefits:
• Ensuring regulators focus on the greatest threats to fish and fish habitat;
• Making the best use of available resources; and
• More efficient approval processes.
The Policy and Operational Guidelines that are followed by DFO staff and anyone else involved in these matters are available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website.
The National Energy Board is best placed to deliver regulatory review responsibilities under the Fisheries Act for activities relating to federally regulated energy infrastructure (such as pipelines).
The Memorandum of Understanding between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the National Energy Board will enable the NEB to:
• Review proponent applications for impacts to fish and fish habitat;
• Assess appropriate measures to avoid and mitigate impacts to fish and fish habitat;
• Include measures to avoid and mitigate impacts as conditions of licences, orders or certificates issued by the NEB; and
• Assess the acceptability of proponent offsetting plans when authorization is required.
Over the years, DFO has established similar arrangements with some Provinces and with Conservation Authorities.
In all cases, the standards for fisheries protection are established by DFO and the Fisheries Act Authorizations continue to be done by DFO.
(First in series of reports on how the Joint Review Panel report will affect the Kitimat region)
If there is a significant flaw in the Joint Review Panel report on Northern Gateway, it can be found in the panel’s analysis of Enbridge Northern Gateway’s plans to blast and dredge at the proposed Kitimat terminal site.
While the Joint Review Panel does consider what it calls “cumulative effects,” the panel plays down those effects and offers no specifics about interaction between the Northern Gateway project and the two liquified natural gas projects, the KM LNG project at Bish Cove and the BC LNG floating terminal at the old log dump.
It appears the JRP considered the legacy effects of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter and other Kitimat industries while not taking into consideration future development.
The dredging and blasting planned by Northern Gateway, as Enbridge said in its evidence, appears to have only a minimal effect on Douglas Channel.
A glance at the map in the Joint Review ruling shows that that the dredging and blasting site is directly opposite Clio Bay, where Chevron, in partnership with the Haisla Nation, plan a remediation project using marine clay from the Bish Cove construction site to cap decades of sunken and rotting logs.
The Clio Bay project was not part of the evidence before the Joint Review Panel, the plans for the project were not formulated until well after the time for evidence before the JRP closed. But those deadlines show one area where the rules of evidence and procedure fail the people of northwestern BC.
The JRP is a snapshot in time and changes in the dynamics of the industrial development in the Kitimat Arm are not really considered beyond the terms of reference for the JRP.
It appears from the report that Enbridge plans to simply allow sediment from the blasting and dredging to float down Douglas Channel, dispersed by the currents and the outflow from the Kitimat River.
Northern Gateway said that dredging and blasting for marine terminal construction would result in a sediment plume that would extend over an area of 70,000 square metres for the duration of blasting activities.
Approximately 400 square metres of the assessed area of the marine terminal is expected to receive more than 1 centimetre of sediment deposition due to dredging. Outside of this area, typical sediment deposition levels alongshore where sediment is widely dispersed (a band approximately 4 kilometres long and 400 metres wide) are very low; in the range of 0.001 to 0.1 centimetres. Dredging and blasting activities are expected to occur over a period of approximately 18 weeks.
Northern Gateway expected most of the sediment plume created by construction activities to be minor in relation to natural background levels.
Northern Gateway would use bubble curtains to reduce pressure and acoustic effects of blasting, and silt curtains to reduce the effect of sedimentation from dredging. It said that bubble curtains are used extensively for other activities, such as pile driving, to reduce the effect of high pressure pulses that can cause injury to fish.
It added that bubble curtains have been tested extensively with blasts, and literature shows they are effective.
Northern Gateway said that physical effects from suspended sediment on marine fish and invertebrates could include abrasion and clogging of filtration mechanisms, which can interfere with ingestion and respiration. In extreme cases, effects could include smothering, burial, and mortality to fish and invertebrates. Direct chemical-related effects of suspended sediment on organisms, including reduced growth and survival, can also occur as a result of the uptake of contaminants
re-suspended by project construction activities, such as dredging and blasting, and as a result ofstorm events, tides, and currents.
The Haisla Nation and Raincoast Conservation objected to Northern Gateway’s figures, noting
Northern Gateway’s sediment and circulation model and its evidence related to contaminated sediment re-suspension at the terminal site. Both parties said that the sediment model was applied for the spring, when the increase in total suspended solids would be negligible compared to background values. In the event of delays, blasting and dredging would likely occur at other times of the year when effects would likely be higher, and these scenarios were not modelled.
The panel’s assessment of the area to be blasted found few species:
Species diversity within Kitimat Arm’s rocky intertidal community is generally low. Barnacles, mussels, periwinkles, and limpets can be found on rocky substrate. Sea urchins, moon snails, sea anemones, sea stars, and sea cucumbers are in shallow subtidal areas. Sandy areas are inhabited by commercially-harvested bivalves such as butter clams and cockles.
Northern Gateway told the JRP that it would “offset” any damage to Douglas Channel caused by the blasting and dredging
Northern Gateway said that construction, operations, and decommissioning of the marine terminal would result in both permanent and temporary alteration of marine fish habitat. Dredging and blasting, and installing physical structures in the water column for the marine terminal would permanently alter marine fish habitat. Based on the current terminal design, in-water site preparation would result in the physical alteration of approximately 1.6 hectares of subtidal marine habitat and 0.38 hectares of intertidal marine habitat. Northern Gateway expected approximately 353 square metres of subtidal marine habitat and 29 square metres of intertidal habitat to be permanently lost.This habitat would be compensated for by marine habitat offsets.
The project’s in-water vertical structures that would support the mooring and berthing structures could create new habitat, offsetting potential adverse effects. The structures may act as artificial reefs, providing marine fish habitat, food, and protection from predation. Although organisms currently inhabiting the work area would be killed, the exposed bedrock would be available for colonization as soon as the physical works are completed.
In its finding on marine sediment, the panel, as it does throughout the ruling, believes that the disruption to the environment caused by previous and ongoing human activity, means that the Northern Gateway Kitimat terminal won’t make that much difference.
Sediment quality in the marine environment is important because sediment provides habitat for benthic aquatic organisms. Northern Gateway’s baseline data for the area immediately surrounding the marine terminal indicated some contamination of water, sediments, and benthic organisms from previous industrial activity. Industrial activities in the Kitimat area have released contaminants through air emissions and effluent discharges since the 1960s. Sources of contaminants to Kitimat Arm
include effluent from a municipal wastewater treatment plant, the Alcan smelter, Methanex Corporation’s methanol plant, and the Eurocan pulpmill, as well as storm water runoff from these operations and the municipality.
Area is largely controlled by natural outflow from the Kitimat River with suspended sediment levels being highest during peak river runoff (May to July, and October) and lowest during winter. Storm events, tides, and currents can also suspend sediments. Levels of total suspended solids fluctuate seasonally and in response to climatic variations, but are generally highest during the summer.
Commercial and recreational vessels currently operating in the area may increase suspended solids by creating water turbulence that disturbs sediments. Given the current sediment contamination levels and the limited area over which sedimentation from construction activities would be expected to disperse, the Panel finds that the risk posed by disturbed contaminated sediment is low. Northern Gateway has committed to monitoring during construction to verify the predicted effects on sediment and water quality for both contaminants and total suspended solids..
The dredging and blasting section of the Joint Review Report is small when compared to the much more extensive sections on pipeline construction and tanker traffic, and the possible effects of a catastrophic oil spill.
Although minor, the marine sediment section exposes the question that was never asked, given the disruptions from years of log dumping at Clio Bay and Minette Bay and the decades of developments at the mouth of the Kitimat River, and future development from LNG, when do cumulative effects begin to overwhelm? How much is enough? How much is too much? If every project continues to be viewed in isolation, what will be left when every project is up and running?
In a news release, Rio Tinto says it is considering its future holdings in a Vancouver-based mining company named Northern Dynasty, which now is the main proponent of the copper and gold mine project. Rio Tinto “through QIT-Fer et Titane Inc., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto plc, owns 18,145,845 common shares of Northern Dynasty, representing approximately 19.1 per cent of Northern Dynasty’s issued and outstanding shares.”
Rio Tinto says the review is part of the financially troubled conglomerate’s review of its mining holdings: “Rio Tinto will consider the Pebble Project’s fit with the Group’s strategy of investing in and operating long life and expandable assets, and with the strategy for its Copper business, which is focused on its four producing assets (Kennecott Utah Copper, Oyu Tolgoi and its interests in Escondida and Grasberg), and two development projects, La Granja in Peru and Resolution in Arizona.”
The Pebble Mine project is as controversial in Alaska and the western United States as the Northern Gateway pipeline project is in British Columbia. Critics say the proposed huge open pit copper and gold mine could endanger the Alaska headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak rivers, considered two of the world’s great salmon spawning grounds. Both flow into the “salmon nursery” in Bristol Bay, where young salmon go to feed, possibly also imperiling salmon stocks from both Alaska and British Columbia
New York City controller John Liu and California state controller John Chiang said their letter was prompted when Rio Tinto rival Anglo-American sold its share of the controversial project in September.
Their letter cited environmental concerns, including the fact that the project would leave 10 billion tonnes of mining waste near the salmon spawning grounds, increased regulatory scrutiny from the US Environmental Protection Agency and what the two controllers called “reputational risks” including opposition from Alaska First Nations and even jewelry companies like Tiffany & Co and Zales and Jostens. The letter cited a poll which showed 73 per cent of Americans, 84 per cent of Alaskans and 98 per cent of Bristol Bay residents opposed the project.
When it decided to sell its share back to Northern Dynasty, Anglo-American also cited a “strategic review” of the company’s operations.
At the time, Rio Tinto’s Jennifer Ruso told the Alaska Dispatch, the company “will only participate in the project if it can be constructed, operated and closed in a manner that preserves the water, salmon, fisheries, wildlife and the environment. The project must also be developed in accordance with our strict standards for health, safety, environmental protection, cultural heritage, and community relations.”
Northern Dynasty and Rio Tinto then said they were considering an underground mine instead of an open pit operation, which did not satisfy environmental critics of the project.
On December 13, Northern Dynasty reported that it had re-acquired 100 per cent ownership of the Pebble Mine project after completing the pull out deal with Anglo-American.
The company, however, is looking for new partners. It says:
Our primary focus is to select the right partner for Northern Dynasty and the right investor for Alaska, a company with sufficient financial resources and technical capabilities, working experience in the United States and a shared commitment to environmentally sound and socially responsible development. We have little doubt that Pebble will attract major mining company interest in the months ahead.
The news release says that Northern Dynasty has spent US$556 million over the past few years and “substantial progress has been made toward our goal of permitting, constructing and operating a world-class, modern and environmentally responsible mine at Pebble that will co-exist with the fisheries resources of southwest Alaska.”
In the news release, Northern Dynasty President & CEO Ronald Thiessen said Pebble’s engineering design, environmental science and regulatory planning were advanced that the company would begin to ask for US and Alaska permitting under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) sometime the first quarter of 2014.
It describes the project this way:
The Pebble Project is an initiative to responsibly develop a globally significant copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in southwest Alaska into a modern, long-life mine, which will benefit not only Northern Dynasty, but the people, culture and industries of the State of Alaska, as well as suppliers, consultants and industries in the Lower 48 United States of America.
A recent study authored by IHS Global Insight, entitled The Economic and Employment Contributions of a Conceptual Pebble Mine to the Alaska and United States Economies found the Pebble Project has the potential to support 15,000 American jobs and contribute more than $2.5 billion annually to US GDP over decades of production.
The Pebble Project is located 200 miles southwest of Anchorage on state land designated for mineral exploration and development. It is situated in a region of rolling tundra approximately 1,000 feet above sea-level, 65 miles from tidewater on Cook Inlet and presents favourable conditions for successful mine site and infrastructure development.
As the Alaska Dispatch reported when Anglo-American pulled out, the copper and gold deposits are so extensive and potentially valuable that pressure to develop the mine will continue despite the threat to salmon and the Alaska environment.
LNG Canada says it wants to be “first out of the gate” in the competitive race to send BC’s liquified natural gas to Asian markets.
The company held a well attended open house at the Kitimat Rod and Gun on November 27, with the usual array of posters and experts, to mark the beginning of the environmental assessment process for what is formally called the “LNG Canada Export Terminal Project.:
The LNG Canada Export Project is a partnership of Shell,Canada Energy, Diamond LNG Canada, an (“affiliate” of Mitsubishi), Korea Gas Corporation and Phoenix Energy (an “affiliate” of PetroChina) filed a draft application for an Environmental Assessment Certificate with the BC Environmental Assessment Office and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on November 8. The 30-day public comment period on the draft Application Information Requirements started on November 13, 2013 and end on December 13, 2013.
The extensive documentation can be downloaded in PDF format from the BCEAO site. The documents can also be viewed at the Kitimat and Terrace Public Libraries and the LNG Canada office in Kitimat at the old Methanex site.
“What we want to be able to do is actually to provide information in a way that we can provide a lot of conversation with the community, so we can really have a dialogue, to give them a place where they know than go to get answers. We do believe that we can be the best project in British Columbia, the only way we can do that is if we have the support of the community,” LNG Canada’s Susannah Pierce told reporters.
“We would like to be first out of the gate. This is a competitive industry and we’re not just competing in terms of providing Canadian gas to the Asian markets, we’re competing with everyone else for the opportunity to deliver product to market.”
The application says that the all-important Financial Investment Decision will likely be “made mid-decade followed by 4-5 years of construction with commissioning of the first phase to follow.”
The first phase would have a first phase of about 12 million tonnes a year of LNG, with another MTPA (million tonnes per anum) in “one or two subsequent phases.”
Federal, provincial and municipal governments or agencies, First Nations and the general public have the ability to comment on the proposal.
An aerial photo map included in the application shows the footprint of the proposed LNG Canada operation. Although the LNG Canada project is based at the old Methanex plant, the map shows that the LNG plant will take up a much larger area than the original. The old Methanex access road would be widened parallel to the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter and a Cyrogenic Pipeline would cross the Kitimat River estuary to the marine terminal.
The scope of the project includes one possibly controversial item: “Onsite power generation,” where natural gas would be used to power the cooling equipment to turn the gas into LNG.
The assessment will also look the natural gas receiving and production facility; “a marine terminal able to accomodate two LNG carriers each with capacity up to 265,000 cubic metres (approximately 122,000 DWT) and a materials offloading area; supporting infrastructure and the construction facilities.
The environmental assessment will examine air quality, green house gas management, the acoustic environment (the noise created by the project), soil, vegetation, wildlife, freshwater, esturine fish and habitat, marine resources including fish and fish habitat and marine mammals, water and ground water quality.
The economic and social assessment includes infrastructure, land use, “visual quality,” odour, marine transportation and use, community health and well being, archaeological heritage and human health.
The assessment process will also “assess potential cumulative economic, health, social and heritage effects from the Project…interacting cumulatively with similar effects of past, present and future projects activities. The current table of projects to be considered for cumulative effects include the Rio Tinto Alcan Aluminum Smelter and Modernization Project, the Kitimat LNG and Douglas LNG terminals, the possible Enbridge Northern Gateway porject, the new use for the old Methanex and Cenovus operations, the operations at the Sand Hill, the former Moon Bay and current MK Bay Marinas.
Projects further away include LNG and other projects and associated pipelines at Prince Rupert, including expansion of the current ports and the redevelopment of Watson Island. Cruise ship and BC ferry operations will be only considered where they impact the shipping routes. Any forestry operations will also only be considered where they impact the project.
Updated to fix typos, including spelling of Feldhoff
At least one of the two large liquified natural gas projects in Kitimat is, at least at this point, planning to self-generate the power required using a gas-fired, steam-driven electrical generation system.
The job, which requires 20 years and more experience, would be located in Calgary for eighteen months, then move to Kitimat for the remainder of a four year contract paying from $1650 to $1850 per day.
As well as the standard qualifications for a senior engineer, the job posting lists:
• Power Plant design, operation and construction experience required.
• Boiler design, construction, operation, and commissioning experience required.
• Heat Recovery Steam Generation (HRSG) design, processes, construction, operation, and commissioning experience required.
• Integrates inherent safety in design and operability in concept selection and development for gas resource opportunities.
Providing the power for the Kitimat and other northwestern LNG projects is becoming controversial. The power is needed to cool the natural gas so it can be loaded onto tankers for shipment to customers.
The BC government recently announced a $650,000 study of the cumulative effect on air quality for the planned industrial expansion in the Kitimat area, including the Rio Tinto Alcan Kitimat modernization project, which would increase the amount of sulphur dioxide emissions, combined with as many as three LNG projects and the associated increase in tanker traffic, as well as the possible and even more controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway project.
At the time of the BC announcement, the Globe and Mail reported:
If natural gas is used either for direct-drive or combined-cycle electricity generation to produce the energy required for the proposed Shell LNG facility at Kitimat, approximately 300 million cubic feet of natural gas would be burned. The proposed Chevron Apache LNG facility could burn approximately 140 million cubic feet of natural gas.
The other alternative for powering the LNG plants is to use hydro-electricity, and BC Hydro at the moment doesn’t have the capacity to supply the LNG projects with power. One possibility is the controversial Site C dam project in the Peace River basin, which is also under review by the BC government.
Although the job is restricted to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, it is clear that the engineer will have to also answer to the project’s overseas partners since one requirement is to conduct: “Overseas VIP workshops, including Value Engineering, Process Simplification, Process Optimization and Design to Capacity.”
A job for a “construction area superintendent” for both the Kitimat LNG plant and the Clio Bay restoration appeared on job sites in the world wide web on October 1. The posting expires on December 31.
The job was originally posted by Brunel Energy, a consulting firm that describes itself as a company that “provides specialist personnel to the international oil & gas, petrochemical, power generation and construction industries.”
The contract job, which, requires 20 years experience and will pay between $1,500 and $2,500 a day, calls for someone who would be “developing project level execution plans for EW&I, LNG Plant & Clio Bay restoration program, and implement/control against these plans in accordance with Project Management System (PMS) processes, procedures and standards.” That superintendent will eventually turn over “functioning facilities to LNG Plant or operations staff.”
As well as standard requirements for a giant construction job of this nature, the requirements include:
• Represent the Company in all interfaces with BC and Kitimat agency associated with EW&I construction activity. Maintaining a positive relationship with the agency by conforming to all regulations and resolving areas of uncertainty in a mutually agreeable manner.
• Maintaining positive relations with the First Nations Haisla representative, recognizing them as a partner and owner of the overall Kitimat LNG Project Development.
Chevron and Apache are partners in the development of the KM LNG project at Bish Cove.
Special report: Clio Bay cleanup: Controversial, complicated and costly
Haisla First Nation Chief Counsellor Ellis Ross says the Haisla made the proposal to the KM LNG project, a partnership of Chevron and Apache, to use the marine clay to cover the thousands of logs at the bottom of Clio Bay after years frustration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the BC provincial government, which for decades ignored requests for help in restoring almost fifty sunken log sites in Haisla traditional territory.
The problem is that remediation of the hundreds of sites on Canada’s west coast most containing tens of thousands of sunken logs has been so low on DFO’s priority list that even before the omnibus bills that gutted environmental protection in Canada, remediation of sunken log sites by DFO could be called no priority.
Now that the KM LNG has to depose of a total of about 3.5 million cubic metres of marine clay and possibly other materials from the Bish Cove site, suddenly log remediation went to high priority at DFO.
The controversy is rooted in the fact that although the leaders of the Haisla and the executives at Chevron knew about the idea of capping Clio Bay, people in the region, both many residents of Kitimat and some members of the Haisla were surprised when the project was announced in the latest KM LNG newsletter distributed to homes in the valley.
In a statement sent to Northwest Coast Energy News Chevron spokesperson Gillian Robinson Ridell said:
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.
Non-aboriginal residents of Kitimat are increasingly worried about being cut off from both Douglas Channel and the terrestrial back country by industrial development. These fears have been heightened by reports that say that Clio Bay could be closed to the public for “safety reasons” for as much as 16 months during the restoration project.
The fact that Clio is known both as a safe anchorage during bad weather and an easy to get to location for day trips from Kitimat has made those worries even more critical.
There is also a strong feeling in Kitimat that the residents were kept out of the loop when it came to the Clio Bay proposal.
In a letter to the District of Kitimat, DFO said:
Clio Bay has been used as a log handling site for decades which has resulted in areas of degraded habitat from accumulations of woody debris materials on the sea floor. The project intends to cap impacted areas with inert materials and restore soft substrate seafloor. The remediation of the seafloor is predicted to enhance natural biodiversity and improve the productivity of the local fishery for Dungeness crab. The project area does support a variety of life that will be impact and therefore the project will require authorization from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Harmful Alteration, Disruption or Destruction (HADD) of fish and fish habitat.
The letter avoids the controversy over the use of marine clay but saying “inert material” will be used. That can only increase the worries from residents who say that not only clay but sand, gravel and other overburden from Bish Cove and the upgrade of the Forest Service Road may be used in Clio Bay. (The use of “inert material” also gives DFO an out if it turns out the department concludes the usual practice of using sand is better. That, of course, leaves the question of what to do with the clay).
Although Ellis Ross has said he wants to see large numbers of halibut and cod return to Clio Bay, the DFO letter only mentions the Dungeness Crab.
Try to search “remediation” on the DFO site and the viewer is redirected to a page that cites the omnibus bills passed by the Conservative government and says
On June 29, 2012, the Fisheries Act was amended. Policy and regulations are now being developed to support the new fisheries protection provisions of the Act (which are not yet in force). The existing guidance and policies continue to apply. For more information, see Changes to the Fisheries Act.
On April 2nd, 2013 the Habitat Management Program’s name was changed to the Fisheries Protection Program.
So, despite what communications officers for DFO and the Harper government may say, there was no policy then and there is no policy now on remediation of log sites. Given Harper’s attitude that LNG and possibly bitumen export must proceed quickly with no environmental barriers, it is likely that environmental remediation will continue to be no priority—unless remediation becomes a problem that the energy giants have to solve and pay for.
On the other hand, the State of Alaska and the United States Environmental Protection Agency spent a decade at a site near Ketchikan studying the environmental problems related to sunken logs at transfer sites
Those studies led Alaska to issue guidelines in 2002 with recommended practices for rehabilitating ocean log dump sites and for the studies that should precede any remediation project.
The Alaska studies also show that in Pacific northwest coast areas, the ecological effects of decades of log dumping, either accidental or deliberate, vary greatly depending on the topography of the region, the topography of the seabed, flow of rivers and currents as well as industrial uses along the shoreline.
The Alaska policy is based on studies and a remediation project at Ward Cove, which in many ways resembles Clio Bay, not far from Kitimat, near Ketchikan.
The Alaska policy follows guidelines from both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers that recommend using thin layers of “clean sand” as the best practice method for capping contaminated sites. (The Army Corps of Engineers guidelines say that “clay balls” can be used to cap contaminated sites under some conditions. Both a spokesperson for the Corps of Engineers and officials at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation told Northwest Coast Energy News that they have no records or research on using marine clay on a large scale to cap a site.)
The EPA actually chose Sechelt, BC, based Construction Aggregates to provide the fine sand for the Ward Cove remediation project. The sand was loaded onto 10,000 tonne deck barges, hauled up the coast to Ward Cove, offloaded and stockpiled then transferred to derrick barges and carefully deposited on the sea bottom using modified clam shell buckets.
The EPA says
Nearly 25,000 tons of sand were placed at the Ward Cove site to cap about 27 acres of contaminated sediments and 3 other acres. In addition, about 3 acres of contaminated sediments were dredged in front of the main dock facility and 1 acre was dredged near the northeast corner of the cove. An additional 50 acres of contaminated sediments have been left to recover naturally.
A report by Integral Consulting, one of the firms involved at the project estimated that 17,800 cubic metres of sand were used at Ward Cove.
In contrast, to 17,800 cubic metres of sand used at Ward Cove, the Bish Cove project must dispose of about 1.2 million cubic metres of marine clay at sea (with another 1.2 million cubic metres slated for deposit in old quarries near Bees Creek).
Studies at Ward Cove began as far back as 1975. In 1990 Alaska placed Ward Cove on a list of “water-quality limited sites.” The studies intensified in 1995 after the main polluter of Ward Cove, the Ketchikan Paper Company, agreed in a consent degree on a remediation plan with the Environmental Protection Agency in 1995. After almost five years of intensive studies of the cove, the sand-capping and other remediation operations were conducted from November 2000 to March 2001. A major post-remediation study was carried out at Ward Cove in 2004 and again in 2009. The next one is slated for 2015.
Deaf ears at DFO
“We need to put pressure on the province or Canada to cleanup these sites. We’ve been trying to do this for the last 30 years. We got nowhere,” Ellis Ross says. “Before when we talked [to DFO] about getting those logs and cables cleaned up, it fell on deaf ears. They had no policy and no authority to hold these companies accountable. So we’re stuck, we’re stuck between a rock and hard place. How do we fix it?”
Ross says there has been one small pilot project using marine clay for capping which the Haisla’s advisers and Chevron believe can be scaled up for Clio Bay.
Douglas Channel studies
The one area around Kitimat that has been studied on a regular basis is Minette Bay. The first study occurred in 1951, before Alcan built the smelter and was used as a benchmark in future studies. In 1995 and 1996, DFO studied Minette Bay and came to the conclusion that because the water there was so stagnant, log dumping there had not contributed to low levels of dissolved oxygen although it said that it could not rule out “other deleterious effects on water quality and habitat`from log dumping.”
That DFO report also says that there were complaints about log dumping at Minette Bay as far back as 1975, which would tend to confirm what Ross says, that the Haisla have been complaining about environmentally degrading practices for about 30 years.
Ross told Northwest Coast Energy News that if the Clio Bay remediation project is successful, the next place for remediation should be Minette Bay.
A year after the Minette Bay study, DFO did a preliminary study of log transfer sites in Douglas Channel, with an aerial survey in March 1997 and on water studies in 1998. The DFO survey identified 52 locations with sunken logs on Douglas Channel as “potential study sites.” That list does not include Clio Bay. On water studies were done at the Dala River dump site at the head of the inlet on Kildala Arm, Weewanie Hotsprings, at the southwest corner of the cove, the Ochwe Bay log dump where the Paril River estuary opens into the Gardner Canal and the Collins Bay log dump also on the Gardner Canal.
In the introduction to its report, published in 2000, the DFO authors noted “the cumulative effect of several hundred sites located on BC coast is currently unknown.”
Since there appears to have been no significant follow-up, that cumulative effect is still “unknown.”
In 2000 and 2001, Chris Picard, then with the University of Victoria, now Science Director for the Gitga’at First Nation did a comparison survey of Clio Bay and Eagle Bay under special funding for a “Coasts Under Stress” project funded by the federal government. Picard’s study found that Eagle Bay, where there had been no log dumping was in much better shape than Clio Bay. For example, Picard’s study says that “Dungeness crabs were observed five times more often in the unimpacted Clio Bay.”
Although low oxygen levels have been cited as a reason for capping Clio Bay, Picard’s study says that “near surface” oxygen levels “did not reliably distinguish Clio and Eagle Bay sediments.” While Clio Bay did show consistent low oxygen levels, Eagle Bay showed “considerable interseasonal variation” which is consistent with the much more intensive and ongoing studies of oxygen levels at Wards Cove.
It appears that Chevron was taken by surprise by the controversy over the Clio Bay restoration. Multiple sources at the District of the Kitimat have told Northwest Coast Energy News that in meetings with Chevron, the company officials seemed to be scrambling to find out more about Clio Bay.
This is borne out by the fact, in its communications with Northwest Coast Energy News, Chevron says its consulting firm, Stantec has cited just two studies, Chris Picard’s survey of Clio Bay and a 1991 overview of log-booming practices on the US and Canadian Pacfic coasts. So far, Chevron has not cited the more up-to-date and detailed studies of Ward Cove that were conducted from 1995 to 2005.
Chevron says that Stantec marine biologists are now conducting extensive field work using divers 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.”
Reports in the Australian media seem to bare out Chevron’s position on environmental responsibility. Things seem to be working at Barrow Island.
Robinson went on to say:
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.
The question that everyone in the Kitimat region must now ask is just how qualified are the environmental specialists hired by Chevron and given staff and budget cuts and pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to downgrade environmental monitoring just how stringent will DFO be monitoring the Clio Bay remediation?
Alaska standardsIn the absence of comprehensive Canadian studies, the only benchmark available is that set by Alaska which calls for:Capping material, typically a clean sand, or silty to gravelly sand, is placed on top of problem sediments. The type of capping material that is appropriate is usually determined during the design phase of the project after a remediation technology has been selected. Capping material is usually brought to the site by barge and put in place using a variety of methods, depending on the selected remedial action alternative.
Thick capping usually requires the placement of 18 to 36 inches of sand over the area. The goal of thick capping is to isolate the bark and wood debris and recreate benthic habitat that diverse benthic infauna would inhabit.
Thin capping requires the placement of approximately 6 – 12 inches of sand on the project area. It is intended to enhance the bottom environment by creating new mini-environments, not necessarily to isolate the bark and wood debris. With thin capping, surface coverage is expected to vary spatially, providing variable areas of capped surface and amended surface sediment (where mixing between capping material and problem sediment occurs) as well as limited areas where no cap is evident.
Mounding places small piles of sand or gravel dispersed over the waste material to create habitat that can be colonized by organisms. Mounding can be used where the substrate will not support capping.
Special report: Clio Bay cleanup: Controversial, complicated and costly
Updated October 3, 2013, with DFO statement
One of the major concerns about Clio Bay is the possible lack of oxygen to support sealife. While some people have called Clio Bay “dead,” others have pointed to catches of crab, cod and salmon to dispute that.
The experience at Ward Cove, Alaska, even though it was more polluted than Clio Bay, shows that oxygen levels are highly variable, depending on season, location and depth.
In 1995, the DFO`s Institute of Ocean Siences studied dissolved oxygen levels in Minette Bay, and concluded, according to a report posted on the DFO website, that because Minette Bay was stagnant from May to November” and those conditions existed even before industrial development in the Kitimat Valley:
Examination of all the dissolved oxygen data showed that conditions before or early in the industrial development of the region were not significantly different from those observed in the 1995 to 1996 study. On the basis of these analyses we concluded that log storage and handling activities in the bay do not appear to have exacerbated the naturally occurring low dissolved oxygen conditions.
The US Enviromental Protection Agency studied disolved oxygen levels at Ward Cove during water quality monitoring from 1998 to 2002. The monitoring found that dissolved oxygen levels of less than 4 milligrams per litre commonly occurred in Ward Cove during the summer and early fall. “During this time, hypoxic conditions (dissolved oxygen less than 2 milliggrams per litre) occurred occasionally at and near the bottom and less frequently in midwater areas. Hypoxia can be dangerous to both fish and bottom dwelling species.”
The EPA study showed that water circulation is restricted within Ward cove. A counter-clockwise circulation brings ocean water from Tongass Narrow into the cove along the south shore. That water usually exits after 15 days.
The EPA studied dissolved oxygen in Ward Cove from November 1995 to October 2002, using 13 monitoring stations, nine inside the cove and four outside in Tongass Narrows.
This monitoring found that the water column is strongly stratified during the summer resulting in poor mixing of bottom water. The EPA says during the monitoring period:
dissolved oxygen levels between 2 and 4 mg/1 were commonly observed in Ward Cove. These conditions began at water depths greater than approximately 20 metres in mid to late July and continued until early October, but oxygen levels between 2 and 4 mg/1 may also occur in water as shallow as 15 metres.
The EPA says the normal oxygen level for the surface waters of Ward Cove is approximately 8 mg/1 at 10°C. Under natural conditions and vertical stratification, dissolved oxygen levels in deeper waters can vary considerably and be reduced significantly below 8 mg/1 by respiration and the decay of organic materials, including sunken logs.
Since Clio Bay is deeper than Ward Cove, that means dissolved oxygen levels could be decreased at the greater depths.
The Ward Cove study also confirmed laboratory studies that showed that salmon can detect and avoid areas of low oxygen. Coho, pink, sockeye, chum, steelhead, Dolly Varden and Cutthroat trout are all native to the cove. Introduced Chinook are also found at Wards Cove.
A Ward Cove report says:
Depressed dissolved oxygen conditions are unlikely to significantly affect the growth of juvenile or adult salmonids migrating through or feeding in or near Ward Cove. Some minor indirect effects, however, may occur as a result of hypoxia-induced changes to food chain organisms inhabiting the cove and adjacent waters.
The growth cycles of the adult stage of all seven anadromous salmon and trout species native to Ward Creek should be completed prior to their arrival in the cove from the ocean. Some feeding by adult cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden may occur in or near the cove as they hold in preparation for entering Ward Creek. The growth of subadult chinook salmon, a fish species not native to Ward Creek, is also not likely affected by exposures to these conditions.
Returning adult salmonids may be present in the cove when the lowest dissolved oxygen and highest water temperatures occur in late summer and early fall. Adult salmonids will usually avoid hypoxic conditions, except when staging to enter freshwater during the latter part of their annual spawning migrations. Severe depressed DO levels at this time in combination with low flows and high water temperatures in Ward Creek can result in adult mortality. Fish kills have not been observed recently in the cove, likely because the depressed DO conditions have not extended into a greater portion of the water column in combination with low flows in Ward Creek.
As for other species, the report says reaction varies, with species that are able to swim often leaving areas of depressed oxygen. Previous studies have shown that bottom dwelling species may be able to tolerate low oxygen for a short time and become susceptible if they don’t swim out of the area. Those species who are are not mobile, have weak swimming abilities, or live within the sediment are more likely to be susceptible.
That means that changes in oxygen level could mean that deaths or migration of mobile bottom dwelling species at a location, leaving the impression that species are no longer around, even though the changes may be seasonal. Scientific studies show that low oxygen levels can also make all species in that area vulnerable to disease due to stress. Low oxygen also limits swimming ability and makes a species more prone to predation.
From August 1995 until October 1996, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Institute of Ocean Sciences and the North Coast Division of Habitat Management) with the support local companies studied the water quality in Minette Bay.
A 1961 study of oceanography of the BC fjords and a second study of in 1968 had already reported finding low dissolved oxygen levels in Minette Bay.
As far back as 1975, the report says:
Concerns have been raised that the poor water quality of the bay is exacerbated if not caused directly by the log handling practices there. Other habitat disruptions have been attributed to the industrial activities associated with log handling practices in this bay, e.g. bottom scouring, bark litter, and sinkers.
The DFO report says that the purpose of our study of Minette Bay was to determine if log handling in the bay “significantly contributed to low dissolved oxygen concentrations.”
The study of Minette Bay was similar to the one then starting at Ward Cove, but on a much smaller scale, checking salinity, temperature and levels of dissolved oxygen.
The report says:
The renewal of Minette Bay deep waters occurs annually during the winter and early spring months. Renewal occurs in the form of multiple events, some of which penetrate to the bottom while others only affect the intermediate waters. These events are caused by the outbreaks of the Arctic air mass over the region. The cold air temperatures reduce run-off thereby increasing surface salinity while at the same time the strong outflow winds push the surface layer away from the head of Kitimat Arm and bring denser water closer to the surface. The cold outflow winds also cool and mix the surface waters. In the stagnant period from May to November, dissolved oxygen concentrations in the deep waters decline rapidly to near zero conditions by July and remain low until the late fall.
The 1995 study concluded, based on surveys and reports from the previous 45 years, that measurements of dissolved oxygen in 1951 before the Alcan smelter was built, through measurements in the 1960, were not different from the 1995 measurements in the deep waters.`and concluded “that log handling practices in the bay have not exacerbated the naturally occurring low DO conditions in the bay.”
It goes on to say while log storage and handling at Minette Bay had no apparent effect on dissolved oxygen:
other deleterious effects on water quality and habitat are possible. These impacts might include: the disruption of animal and plant ‘life on and in the sediments by the grounding of log booms or scouring of the bottom sediments by the movement of log booms; the alteration of the natural composition of the sediments and the benthic community by the accumulation of bark, whole logs and other wood debris on the sediments underneath the log storage areas and in the log dump zone; anoxia in sediments due to an increased organic load; and toxic concentrations of leachates from the logs and other wood debris.
It called for further studies of Minette Bay such as using an underwater camera, could provide a cost effective way to visually inspect and classify the bottom sediments. Those sediments could then be sampled
based on the preliminary mapping of sediment characteristics, log handling impacts and visual ·surveys. At these locations the benthic community should be sampled for diversity and species composition. This information by itself or in conjunction with historical surveys in the bay and Kitimat Arm may give a sense of the degree of impact that log handling operations are having on the ecology of Minette Bay.
It also called for studies for “two small inlets that have very shallow sills; Foch Lagoon which has a 4 metre deep sill at low water and the other is Kiskosh Inlet which has a 2 metre deep sill.”
Kiskosh Inlet has a maximum depth of about 53m and is more like Minette Bay than Foch Lagoon which has a much deeper basin (250m). Their very shallow sills suggest that the deep basin waters in these two inlets may be oxygen depleted. A comparison with Minette Bay may be instructive as there are no log storage or handling activities in either of these inlets.
In 1997, DFO created a list of 52 sites on Douglas Channel that were used as active, abandoned or potential log dump sites, as targets for studies. The east and west sides of Minette Bay were two items on the list. Clio Bay, Foch Lagoon and Kiskosh Inlet were not on that list.
Haisla Chief Counsellor Ellis Ross says that if the Clio Bay capping project works, Minette Bay should be next.
Dissolved oxygen standards
The state of Alaska has set standards for dissolved oxygen in marine water with a minimum of six milligrams per litre in the one metre surface layer for coastal water and 5 milligrams per litre in estuaries, “except where natural conditions cause this value to be depressed,” with an additional standard of a minimum of 4 milligrams per litre at any one point in both coastal waters and estuaries.
In a statement to Northwest Coast Energy News, DFO spokesperson Carrie Mishima said, “Site-specific standards for dissolved oxygen levels will be developed for the enhanced site by sampling a control site having similar habitat parameters.”
It appears from documents posted on the DFO website that dissolved oxygen monitoring has been dismissed by DFO as too expensive until the issue became important to fish farming.
A 2005 DFO report on the Bay of Fundy noted
The time has therefore arrived for Canada to proceed seriously and rapidly toward the development and implementation of adequate dissolved oxygen standards and management protocols for the marine coastal zone and aquaculture. Such an effort will enable us to avoid the serious eco-socio-economic consequences associated with poor water quality. From a risk analyses perspective the dissolved oxygen issue might be classified as manageable. Aquaculture takes place in a relatively small proportion of the Canadian coastline and it is only within some of these areas that aquaculture is intense enough to pose potential problems. Hence, the likelihood of a major aquaculture induced depletion of dissolved oxygen is probably low to moderate and the impact of reductions is also probably low to moderate.
Another 2005 DFO report, again on aquaculture, based on meetings in Ottawa noted:
Dissolved oxygen is not yet an easily applied regulatory tool on a specific case-by-case basis, and views were mixed regarding its promise as a candidate for monitoring environmental quality in the coastal zone. However, it is one of the few options available for monitoring over hard bottoms. It is also a useful tool for predicting and assessing far-field effects in environments where oxygen levels may be a concern.
This despite the fact that Alaska and the EPA had been monitoring dissolved oxygen and setting standards for the previous decade.
Canada does not yet have national standards for dissolved oxygen levels in coastal waters. DFO says “site specific” standards will be applied at Clio Bay, but so far there are no details of what those standards will be.