Kitimat to issue tsunami hazard and evacuation map

Teron Moore explaining a tsunami
Teron Moore of Emergency Management explains a surge tsunami at a emergency preparedness forum at Riverlodge, Nov. 4, 2013 (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The District of Kitimat plans to issue a tsunami hazard and evacuation map for the town.

Fire Chief Trent Bossance and Emergency Coordinator Bob McLeod told a forum on emergency preparedness on November 4 that the map is in the final stages of preparation and will be distributed to residents in the near future.

The forum was also told that the former District Council Chambers on the second floor of the public safety building (the fire hall) is being converted into “a fixed, permanent emergency operations centre,” with upgraded communications and computer equipment.

McLeod said that over the past months, since the October 27, 2012 Haida Gwaii earthquake and the January 31, 2013, Sitka, Alaska earthquake, Kitimat’s emergency planners have been working with the province to update the original emergency plan which was first developed about 12 years ago.

McLeod said that the plan was recently sent to a consultant who told Kitimat the overall plan only needed minor charges. Now, however, there is new emphasis on tsunami planning.

Fire Chief Bossance says emergency planners have been consulting with scientists who have concluded that if a tsunami was to come into Kitimat from Douglas Channel, it most likely would be between two and four metres, so to be on the safe side, the District is planning on a “six metre baseline” from the high tide line. That means the hazard map will be based on the possibility of a six metre tsunami coming up the Channel. ( A worst case scenario, however, could result in a bigger tsunami, perhaps eight metres).

The forum at Riverlodge was part of an effort by both federal and provincial officials to visit communities that were affected by the two recent major earthquakes, inform local residents of updated planning by the federal government and British Columbia and to let those officials know what local concerns are.

Weather warnings
Anne McCarthy of Environment Canada explains that tsunami warnings on the Environment Canada website will be similar to weather warnings. Weather radios can be seen on the table in the foreground. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Anne McCarthy of Environment Canada says her agency is planning to expand the Weather Radio system, most popular in Tornado Alley in the United States, to the northwest coast. There are already Weather Radio transmitters in the Lower Mainland. Kitimat, however, at this point, is low on the priority list, with Prince Rupert and then Sandspit and Masset roll outs in the coming year.

Environment Canada also plans to implement a Twitter feed sometime in 2014, that would supplement other Twitter feeds from Emergency Planning BC and the recently renamed US National Tsunami Warning Center (formerly the Alaska and West Coast Tsunami Warning Center), operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tsunami warnings will also be posted on the Environment Canada website in the same way weather and other alerts are posted.

Surge of water

If an earthquake-triggered tsunami was to strike Kitimat from Douglas Channel, it would not be the big waves seen in the movies and during the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunamis, Teron Moore, a seismic specialist with the BC Provincial Emergency Management said. Given the configuration of Douglas Channel and its many islands, a tsunami is more likely to be a “surge” of water.

“Tsunamis can appear like a rising tide that quickly keeps coming in, “ Moore said. “A normal tide would stop at the high tide line.Sometimes a tsunami can be a quickly rising tide that keeps on coming….A wave can come in for 30 minutes. it’s a long, long time that these waves just keep on coming in and you wouldn’t see the crest of a wave, necessarily and then they come out. So it’s almost like that river comes in for half an hour and then can go back out for half an hour. There’s a tendency for people first of all to not think it’s dangerous, A second, third and fourth wave can come in.”

Tsunami events can last as much as eight to twelve hours, Moore said. Depending on the location of the triggering earthquake, Kitimat is likely to have some warning of a possible incoming earthquake-triggered tsunami.

The second type of tsunami could be triggered by a submarine landslide in Douglas Channel, as happened with  slope failures in October 17, 1974 (triggering a 2.4 metre tsunami at low tide) and on April 27, 1975 (generating an 8.2 metre tsunami). The 1975 tsunami destroyed the Northland Navigation dock near Kitimat and damaged the Haisla First Nation docks at Kitamaat Village.

“The slide in 1975 generated an eight metre wave that came from Moon Bay across to Kitimat Village, now that is huge wave. We can’t really predict an event like that, it would happen so fast,” McLeod said.

Hazard areas

Two major fault lines could trigger shaking in Kitimat and might possibly also mean that there could be a tsunami.

The first is the Cascadia fault which goes from the northern California to the western edge of Vancouver Island. The second is the Queen Charlotte fault off Haida Gwaii.

The Cascadia fault, Moore said, is an active subduction zone. “A subduction zone is where two of earth’s large plates are colliding against each other and one of those plates is going under neath another one of those plates.’ The plates get stuck and build up strain “almost like pulling an elastic band. At sometime the elastic band snaps creating a very large earthquake,” Moore said.

The Juan de Fuca plate is a very large plate subducting underneath the continent of North American plate. The Juan de Fuca plate has been stuck for some 300 hundred years since the last time it ruptured. There is a rupture about every 500 years or so in this zone that triggers a large earthquake.

“But, Moore warned, “it’s 500 years plus or minus 200 years. even though there’s a lot of modelling doing on, there’s still a lot of uncertainty and so its a concept that it is difficult to get an understanding of.

“The Haida Gwaii or Queen Charlotte fault….is one that is going side by side. It’s called a strike slip fault. “A strike slip fault can still cause earthquakes it can still rupture and cause shaking, but if it doesn’t have that subduction, you tend to not have tsunamis. “Although science says the Charlotte fault has a low likely of causing a tsunami, but as we know from last year the Charlotte fault did cause a tsunami, quite a significant tsunami in some areas, not one that impacted Kitimat but one that could have impacted Kitimat and did impact, the west coast of Haida Gwaii quite significantly.

“We were very lucky there weren’t any large communities out there. We very lucky that it wasn’t at the height of summer tourist season with kayakers and fishing lodges. In some areas, the way the wave came into certain bays, created a five metre tsunami. “So if you were on the beach and a five metre tsunami was coming up the inlet, that’s a significant tsunami. What I want to emphasize is that people here who felt the shaking, they should have gone to high ground.”

Emergency procedures

In the case of a major earthquake, where residents of Kitimat feel shaking, then they should take appropriate precautions, the forum was told, including moving to higher ground if they think they should.

“Once the maps are available we will get them out to the public. I think it is important for the public to understand and visualize, where they sit within that six metre height. Always if you’re unsure go to higher ground. It’s easier to come back if your house is unaffected, than trying to leave if your house is being affected,” McLeod said.

There would be no reason to actually leave Kitimat, according to Emergency Management B.C.’s northwest regional manager Maurie Hurst. “Kitamaat Village should evacuate to higher ground. I would not like to see them coming down that coast highway to Kitimat, that’s not safe. Stay where you are, move to higher ground.

“At Sandspit higher ground is quite a ways a way from the community for them they are having to a bit of travel but in Kitimat higher ground is a ten minute walk, a five minute drive, it’s right here within the community.”

After an earthquake occurs, the National Tsunami Warning Center in Homer, Alaska evaluates the situation and sends out alerts to Canadian and US government agencies. In British Columbia, Emergency Management BC is the lead agency.

It communicates with Environment Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, local emergency officials and the media. In Kitimat, it is the local emergency management officials and first responders who are in charge.

After misinformation went out over social media during the October 27, 2012 event, McLeod says the District of Kitimat now has social media specialists at the Emergency Operations Centre. “We’ve modified the district website, so there will be banners going up on it, just to get accurate information out.” Using the baseline of six metres above high tide, McLeod says the Rio Tinto Alcan wharfs, MK Bay Marina and the Kitamaat Village dock would most likely be affected.

While that means most of the Kitimat community may not be affected, there are other factors involved, according to Chief Bossance. “Because of all the islands we have in the waterways, we’re not going to have that big wave, we are going to have that surge,” he said.  “If a tsunami is coming, we always look at the earthquake, what was its magnitude, obviously the higher the magnitude, the more impact it’s going to have for everyone in that case.

Kitimat Fire Chief Trent Bossance
Kitimat Fire Chief Trent Bossance explains emergency procedures in case of a tsunami (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

“We looked at seven point seven the most recent one, (on Haida Gwaii)it had very little impact here due the fact that it was a slip slide.

“The other fault, the one along Vancouver Island, is a different fault altogether. The problem we’re having with us right now, there haven’t been a lot studies conducted with how that waters going to impact coming from that direction into us.

“If it’s a significant shaking, don’t wait for us to tell you to go high ground.

“So they’re saying anywhere from two metres, depending on high tide up to four. We took the next step and said we’re going to go with six to build in a safety factor.

“But saying that, we have to know what our tide heights are at the time the tsunami strikes. The other thing we look at is the magnitude of the quake.

“So if you’re living down in the Kildala area and if we determine that it’s an eight metre event, then evacuation might be necessary.

“Everything is do dependent on what happens from the time of the earthquake, the tides, the weather. If we’re having significant rainfall at the time, that would mean the river would swell. If it’s the fall when we get our monsoons, that may change the fact of what’s going to happen.

“If you look at the dike, the dike is what is separating us from the river. Kitimat is sort of odd in that we have a dike that surrounds a lot of the town, but there’s an open spot in it, so it’s going to funnel through there and into the lower lying areas of the Kildala area.”

Under most circumstances, Bossance said, the City Centre Lower Parking lot would be above the danger zone.

“Just because we’re looking at six doesn’t mean it’s not going affect everyone, our plan is constantly evolving. Local officials are the ones to tell you it is safe to go back home.”

Boaters concerned

There was one question arose at the forum that the panelists had no immediate answer for. What should boaters do if there is a tsunami warning while they are on the Channel, especially during the summer or the peak salmon season when there could a hundred or so boats on the water?

“Douglas Channel is a deep channel,” Bossance said. “It’s in the shallow water and it builds, but here it is relativey deep water until it’s close to shore. That’s why it’s such a great deep sea port,its deep and then it shallows fairly quickly that’s why they’re saying we’re not going to have that big wave coming in., its going to be a surge of water.”

The panel they would investigate the situation further but at the moment they presume that it would be best to go the center of the channel. “The usually advice to make for open water that’s what the [US] coast guard recommends.”

A boaters safety brochure  issued by the State of California recommends getting to 100 fathoms or 600 feet.

A similar brochure from Hawaii recommends a minimum depth of 300 feet and staying clear of a harbour entrance channel during an event. The Hawaii brochure warns that if a boater is not on the water, they should not go down to their boats.

The brochure notes that: “In 1964 in Kodiak, Alaska, a warning was received prior to the arrival of the first tsunami waves. People who rushed down to the harbor to secure or take their boats out to sea constituted two thirds of all the fatalities caused by the tsunami at Kodiak City.” There is, so far, no similar brochure issued by the province of BC.

The panel suggested that a sign be posted at MK Bay, outlining safety procedures. Moore said: “The other thing we’re thinking about is there could be wave action for eight to ten to twelve hours maybe. If you need to  have eight to ten hours of gas to fight the current, eight to ten hours of food, all the things you’re going to need. There were cases in California where boats kept on idle to keep being driven into shore and then they run out of gas, and then they ended up in dangerous situations. Each individual has to assess how big is their boat and where it is in the water and how it’s going to come in.

“For me I would rather be on shore if I could get to shore quick enough and get to higher ground but if you’re closer to the ocean and you have a big vessel and have the gasoline for 10 hours, then may be you’re better off.”

The Hawaii brochure also warns that watches and warnings for mariners on VHF Channel 16 (the calling and emergency channel) may be different for those on land. Hurst noted that some people in Haida Gwaii were picking up US Coast Guard advisories on VHF 16 which said the October tsunami warning had been downgraded. While the warning was downgraded for Alaska, the warnings continued for Haida Gwaii.

Hurst said those monitoring Channel 16 must be be sure they are monitoring the advisories on 16 from Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio.

Another problem, given the configuration of Douglas Channel, is that if a tsunami severely damages MK Bay, Minette Bay, the Village Dock, the RTA docks and Nechako dock, there may be no place for boaters to return to safely given the rocky shore of Douglas Channel, which is quite different than coasts of California or Hawaii where boating is part of the emergency planning.

“The Kitimat emergency plan will have to take into consideration boaters on the water, it’s not necessarily covered by legislation but if the plan exists, they can get it out to citizens who are out on the water,” Hurst said


72 hour emergency kit
A 72-hour emergency kit was on display at Riverlodge. It includes the civilian version of military meals ready to eat as well as both dried and canned food, water, a first aid kit and other supplies. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

“From an earthquake perspective,” McLeod said, “folks should be looking at their own home preparation, making sure your residence is as earthquake proof as you could possibly make it by anchoring things to the wall, by making every effort that things are not going to fall on you. Every October there’s going to be a shakeout, which gives all an opportunity to get under the table and practice, drop, cover and hold on.

“So know the hazards, have a plan, have an emergency kit. You rotate the products in it on say an annual basis, hopefully you never have to touch it, but it’s there if you definitely need it. The emergency kit should have supplies for both humans and pets for a minimum of 72 hours.

Planning should also take in to consideration that even if there isn’t major damage in Kitimat, due emergencies in other parts of the province, the town could be cut off for several days, resulting in shortages.

Joint Review hearings moved to Haisla Recreation centre from Riverlodge

Joint Review Panel


David Suzuki speaks at the Solidarity Gathering of Nations at the Haisla Recreation Centre, Kitamaat Village, May 29, 2010. The gathering was called to protest against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.  The Joint Review Panel announced Dec. 22 that the Kitimat hearings have been moved from the Riverlodge Recreation Centre to the Haisla Rec centre. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The Joint Review Panel has moved the first two days of hearings on the Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Kitimat Riverlodge Recreation Centre on Jan. 10 and 11 to the Haisla Receration Centre in Kitamaat Village.

In a news release issued late Thursday afternoon
, the JRP said:


CALGARY, Dec. 22, 2011 /CNW/ – The Joint Review Panel (the Panel) conducting the review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project has changed the venue for the following community hearings. The community hearings will start on January 10, 2012, in Kitamaat Village instead of Kitimat.

Location Venue Date and Start Time
Kitamaat Village, BC Haisla Recreation Center
1538 Jassee 10 and 11 January 2012
Starting at 9:00 a.m.

For more information on the joint review process and the detailed schedule for the first portion of the community hearings, please visit the Panel’s website at The Panel will continue to share details about the community hearings as they become available.

Media Procedure for the Hearings

Members of the media are welcome to attend the community hearings. Filming, recording and photographing will be allowed within pre-established fixed locations in the hearing room while the hearings are underway. Media reporting or interviews will not be allowed in the hearing room.

The Panel reserves the right to modify the media procedure for the hearings at any time.

About the Joint Review Panel
The Joint Review Panel for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is an independent body, mandated by the Minister of the Environment and the National Energy Board. The Panel will assess the environmental effects of the proposed project and review the application under both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act.

The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project involves the construction of two 1 170-kilometre pipelines running from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and the construction and operation of the Kitimat Marine Terminal.

Haisla won’t “negotiate” with Enbridge until after Joint Review decision, Ross says

Energy Environment First Nations

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross speaking at the September 2011 District of Kitimat public forum on the Northern Gateway Pipeline.  (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross said Friday that Haisla will not “negotiate” with Enbridge over its planned Northern Gateway Pipeline until after there has been a decision from the Joint Review Panel on  whether or not the pipeline is in the public interest.

Ross said the Haisla had recently written to Minister of the Environment Peter Kent, asking if the Crown was prepared to enter the constitutionally mandated consultations with First Nations over the pipeline.  Ross says Kent’s reply indicated that there would be no Crown consultations until after the conclusion of the Joint Review Process.

The Joint Review Panel hearings begin in Kitimat on January 10, 2012.   The hearings will proceed in two stages, first hearing presentations from registered intervenors, with the second phase hearing from members of the public who wish to give 10 minute comments on the pipeline project. That stage of the process could take up to three months before the panel can even begin to consider a decision.

Reacting to today’s decision by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs to sign an agreement with Enbridge to take a $7 million partnership stake in the pipeline, Ross said he was surprised by the move, “given the opposition from the public so far, and we’ve be told that in terms of consultation and accommodation [with First Nations].”

Earlier today, in the news conference with Gitxsan heriditary chief Elmer Derrick, Enbridge executive vice president of Western Access Janet Holder told reporters that the company was negotiating with all 50 First Nations along the pipeline route.

Ross disagreed with that term. He said, “The Haisla are not negotiating with Enbridge. You can’t confuse negotiation and talking.” He said without the participation of the Crown there is no real  process for negotiations and accommodation with First Nations over the pipeline.

Ross said any talks with Enbridge by First Nations shouldn’t be considered negotiations unless there is some type of formal agreement saying “we are in negotiations.”

Ross also said  in terms of  possible agreements with Enbridge  “it is pretty easy to negotiate in an area where there will be very little impact.”

The Haisla, he said,  have all three major impacts from the Northern Gateway project, “the pipeline, the terminal and the tankers.  It`s pretty easy to negotiate if you`re not paying the full price.  The Haisla will pay in full if the project goes ahead.”

The Haisla have always  been wary of the Enbridge project but have also been careful in stating their opposition to the pipeline.  At public meeting in Kitimat in September, Ross said, in part.

As far as we can tell, based on oil company’s track records, there will be a spill whether it is pipeline, terminal or tanker.

The only questions are how much oil will be spilled, who will clean it up and who will pay for the cleanup. We’ve been accused of NIMBY but in terms of our concerns, when it comes to a spill, we predict a POTB (Passing of the Buck) will occur…

And ultimately, apart from the acceptable risks that Haisla have already taken on against our will as well as current risks that we are a part of mitigating, why do we want to consider a project that has the potential to destroy the beauty of our resources that are still left?

We are not opposed to development, but in the case of oil export or oil by products import/export, the Precautionary Principle still makes the most sense

Other First Nations also reacted strongly to the Gitxsan chiefs’ decision.

In a news release Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) representing the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs said:

Enbridge is just not going to happen. We have said no and banned this pipeline from going through our territories – not only to protect ourselves and our lands, but also all the communities downriver from our lands. We have reviewed the project, and we have made a decision based in our traditional laws that we will not allow the devastation of an Enbridge oil spill in our lands to affect us and other communities further away who are all connected to us through the water.

Chief Jackie Thomas of Saik’uz First Nation, speaking for the Yinka Dene Alliance, stated:

Enbridge has always had a strategy of offering money to lots of First Nations. Lots of First Nations have refused this money. This is just the same old divide and conquer tactic we’ve known for centuries. It doesn’t matter who they get a deal with. The wall of First Nations saying no is unbroken. They plan to come through our territories and we’ve already said no, and we’ll use every legal means we have to stop them.

Their proposed pipeline is against our laws because we refuse to put our communities at the risk of oil spills. Water means more to us than money. We know we have overwhelming support from a large majority of British Columbians for stopping this dangerous Enbridge pipeline.

Christy Clark flies to Kitimat, spins on LNG, flies out again

Energy Environment Politics
529-6166894394_e7958e02d3.jpgBC Premier Christy Clark meets with the leaders of the Haisla First Nation at Kitamaat Village, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.  (BC government hand out )

BC Premier Christy Clark made a flying visit to Kitimat Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, dropping into Kitamaat Village to meet with the leaders of the Haisla First Nation and, as part of the flying, boarded a helicopter to take a look at the  KM LNG at under construction at Bish Cove, before flying out again.

It was all part of the premier’s campaign style job strategy which sees Clark touring the province this week and unveiling a complete jobs package on  Thursday.

The proposed liquified natural gas terminals at Kitimat are not as controversial in this region as the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.  There is general support for the LNG projects, allowing for  safety concerns about LNG tankers and environmental problems from the construction of the pipeline.

Clark’s visit to the Kitimat region is controversial here because from all appearances, there was little or no substance.   If the visit had in been the early decades of the last century, when politicians traveled by train rather than helicopter, it would have been a “whistle stop,” nothing more.

A BC premier visiting the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nation should, of course,  make a courtesy call on the leadership in the village, although it appears the visit was  short, routine  rather than a truly substantial meeting.

As for the rest of the Kitimat region was concerned,  the premier’s short in and out photo op was not aimed at helping the people of Kitimat but appeared to be more spinning her jobs strategy throughout the rest of the province which is less familiar with the history of  development in Kitimat.   

No one in the local media, the Northern Sentinel, Kitimat Daily nor Northwest Coast Energy News were given any information about timing of the premier’s visit, perhaps because local reporters might ask tougher questions than the BC legislature  pool traveling with Clark. The Northern Sentinel only found out about the time of  the meeting after  one of the numerous calls made by local media was actually returned in time for their reporter to be in the village for the premier’s visit.

As of Sunday, no meeting between the premier and Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan was scheduled.  At the last minute, after some political arm twisting, the premier did have a brief  ten to fifteen minute   meeting with Monaghan and Municipal Manager Ron Poole at the village on Monday.  (It should be noted that members of Kitimat council will meet with Clark at the up coming convention of the Union of BC Municipalities).

At 14:55 Monday, Sept. 19, Clark (or her PR team) tweeted.

We’re taking steps to get #kitimat’s liquefied natural gas plant running by 2015. A strong LNG industry means local jobs. #bcpoli

The message was quickly retweeted by Clark supporters. That tweet raised eyebrows, since the process for the KM LNG is already well under way, with construction apparently on schedule for the 2015 date when the first natural gas will flow into a tanker.  The licence for KM LNG is in the hands of  the federal National Energy Board. 

What the tweet meant became clearer once the premier’s office issued a news release  

Christy Clark’s “more aggressive approach to the development of the natural gas sector” includes traditional small c conservative elements:

Cutting red tape: accelerate the lengthy permitting processes and improve the decision making required to bring large-scale production facilities from a concept to a reality, and that these commitments will be a greater priority for B.C. on a go forward basis.

Skills training: working with industry partners for some time on the future skills required to support a new LNG industry. The goal is to ensure the post-secondary system is able to deliver the targeted training necessary to grow the oil and gas industry, including LNG.

Attracting investment:  by working with industry stakeholders and First Nations to remove the barriers and secure the investment required to establish up to three LNG plants by 2020. As of today, the Province is aware of a handful of LNG proposals.

The only practical element in Clark’s announcement was help for the Haisla First Nation in dealing with multiple developments: (as related in the news release)

The Province’s assistance is timely,” said Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Ellis Ross. “Our own training capacity is limited by resources and capabilities, and these have been exhausted given the projects now underway on our territory and the demands they place on our people for skills and training. Our economic future has never looked better, and this assistance will help us deliver on this promise to our community.”

Michael Smyth of The Province (along with a number of Tweeters) noted that most of Clark’s announcement was recycled.

Those same economic storms have buffeted the government, too, and Clark doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on direct job creation — not if she keeps her promise to balance the budget in 2013.

So, expect many re-announcements of old projects. The proposed Kitimat liquefied natural gas plant Clark trumpeted Monday, for example, was approved three years ago.
She’s also expected to cheerlead the Northwest Transmission Line project this week, another one that’s been in development for years.

Without a lot of money to throw around, Clark will talk about getting government out of the way of private-sector job creation. Deregulation and cutting red tape is less expensive than direct stimulus spending to create jobs.

The environmentalists won’t be happy when she starts fast-tracking permits for mining and other resource extraction, but losing “green” votes is the least of her worries.

Veteran journalist Norm Farrell in his blog “Let’s play political football with Kitimat” gives a list of how often a Kitimat LNG project has been announced going back to an Associated Press report from 1981

The Rim Gas Project, which includes Petro-Canada of Calgary, Westcoast Transmission of Vancouver and Mitsui and Co. Ltd. of Japan, wants to deliver and sell liquefied natural gas to Japan from a plant it will build at Bish Cove, six miles from Kitimat.

And Kitimat Tweeter  YWGSourpuss posted:

Kitimat has kinda sorta might been getting an LNG Plant since I was a teenager. Meanwhile, Methanex and Eurocan were culled, dust blows…

and then

I see media wonks waffling about LNG/Kitimat/need for cheap energy. Remember Kemano Completion? Ask Rio Tinto re: hole in the mountain.

On the Opposition side of the question, Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer looked at an apparent split in the opposition NDP over the LNG issue Wednesday, noting that the environment critic NDP environment critic Rob Fleming is concerned about the controversial fracking process used to retrieve natural gas from shale:

When you look at where the gas would come from, we’re talking about major shale-gas deposits. There are big concerns there, from an environmental perspective, around water usage and whether it’s sustainable, and water contamination when it’s injected underground to bring the gas to the surface – the fracking process – and a lot of greenhouse gases produced.

Palmer reports that the NDP house leader John Horgan has indicated  that he and Opposition leader Adrian Dix support LNG exports.

 In Horgan’s estimation, it could be piped to the coast, liquefied and shipped out with minimal risk. “Liquid natural gas doesn’t stick to things. It blows up, or it vents. So the environmental consequence of a catastrophe with an LNG tanker is relatively insignificant,” he told me during an interview on Voice of B.C. on Shaw TV.

“So the risk to our coastline from LNG is insignificant; the benefit to British Columbians is quite significant. And it’s our resource, so we’ll get the royalties for extracting it, we’ll get value added by getting it to an LNG facility, and then we’ll get a better price for it in Asia.

Palmer is concerned about Fleming’s caution not to rush things, stating that

For “you can’t rush these things” is precisely the opposite of what industry analysts are saying about LNG development. The window on the Asian market is closing, and if B.C. doesn’t get moving, the opportunity will be gone. Again.

One wonders where Palmer gets his evidence that window of opportunity for the Asian markets is closing?  With the Fukishima meltdown, the market window for LNG is actually expanding, not just in Japan but across East Asia.  What some in the energy industry are warning about is Canadian gas being exported through the United States, warnings that were prominent at the NEB hearings in Kitimat last June and is largely industry spin trying to hurry the approval process along.

The controversy over fracking will continue, with the energy industry claiming it is safe and the environmental activists saying it is not. What is apparent about fracking as Pro Pubilica have pointed out in their continuing investigation of the issue, is that use of the process on a wide scale is new and there aren’t enough adequate studies of the process. Inadequate study could mean consequences down the road, we don’t know, so there should be some caution.

The blasting continues at the KM LNG site at Bish Cove as the shoreline rocks are levelled to close to sea level.  Meanwhile the political spin pitches just as much hot air and debris into the atmosphere.

Related Links

Vancouver Sun Clark leaves out Island on jobs tour

Northern View: B.C. Jobs Plan’ keys on trade with Asia

Enhanced by Zemanta