Wednesday, November 26, 2014

City provides outline and environmental report regarding Lot 444 plans

Prior to last evening's Public meeting held at the Highliner Inn regarding Lot 444 and potential LNG Terminal development for it, the City of Prince Rupert provided a pair of reports on the topic, presenting them on the City website.

The first was an overview of the proposal from City Manager Robert Long, who detailed the work done thus far on the file. Highlighting some of the environmental notes related to the proposal, as well as the economic benefits to the City from any proposed development at Tuck Inlet.

The City document which is part of the process ahead for re-zoning of land at Lot 444, stresses that even if the zoning process is approved, any proposed terminal from Exxon/Mobil still would require the need to go through the Environmental Assessment Process and receive all of the required permits from various levels of government.

As for potential benefits for the City,  according to Mr. Long's report Job creation could provide between 1,000 to 6,000 workers on site in the construction phase depending on final development plan, with expectations of permanent employment for 50 to 150 people upon any Terminal completion.

** Note of clarification: the above 50 to 150 people reference, is in relation to contract employment associated with the Terminal. During the initial phase of the development, permanent employment opportunity levels for the proposed Terminal are anticipated to number 300 across a range of positions (see page 2 of Mr. Long's report)

Direct economic benefits include the prospect of the proponents of the Terminal paying to the city 18 million dollars over 2 years for investigation purposes, included in that amount a 1 million dollar non-refundable deposit already paid on the transfer of title to Prince Rupert Legacy Incorporated.

As well the report highlights the potential economic revenue stream that the City may enjoy from any Terminal development, with estimates that the City could receive tax revenues in the range of 66 million dollars annually once the Terminal would be in operation.

Additionally, the report offers up the prospect that the value of lease payments or a purchase payment, will likely reflect an additional hundreds of million dollars to the taxpayer of Prince Rupert.

City staff also provided a range of recommendations for the City and the would be proponents of the LNG Terminal to consider.

The majority of them related to the findings of Dr. Faggetter, the local oceanographer hired by the City's Legacy Corporation to conduct a review of the environmental aspects of the proposed development area.

Among some of the key items:

Keeping a detailed, current and ongoing baseline for air quality monitoring

Develop an Air Quality Management Plan

Use gas turbine technology to delver the best available emissions.

Acquire detailed water chemistry for Shawatlans and Woodworth Lakes and if required the City will have to alter its water treatment process to mitigate any changes of Prince Rupert's drinking water.

Mitigate any noise and light nuisance from the proponent's LNG Terminal

Advocate for the inclusion of renewable energy sources into the Proponent's proposed project.

Advocate for the concept with the lowest air shed impact.

Consider the Raw Water Supply Line Replacement Project and have it take place before industrial development of Lot 444, reducing the likelihood of having to use water from Shawatlans Lake.

Take a precautionary approach towards any industry which might further increase ocean acidification of regional waters used by the shellfish industry in the region.

The second document posted to the City's website was the review of that  report compiled by Dr. Barb Faggetter.

Through her company, Ocean Ecology, Dr. Faggetter delivered a rather comprehensive overview of the environmental aspects of the project.

Offering 43 pages of scientific review, observations, graphs and maps, all of which expand significantly on the short talking points offered up by Mr. Long's report.

The report, provides a focus on two areas of concern for Lot 444, based on air shed impacts and watershed impacts.

Though as she states on page nine of her opening review, the report is limited in scope and does not address a number of issues which may be important towards any decision regarding the development of lot 444.

The preamble to more substantive review of air shed and watershed impacts, provides a comparison of some of the more prominent LNG projects suggested for the region and the overview that should the Exxon/Mobil proposal for five LNG trains move forward towards development, it would potentially be the largest project built in the region.

The bulk of the review is a scientific tutorial of sorts on a number of items of interest related to air shed impacts and pollutants and impacts that the proposed LNG project might have on Prince Rupret's air quality.

Dr. Faggetter also provides comparisons to emission levels from the days of Skeena Cellulose and offers up recommendations on how to reduce emissions produced by LNG plants.

The watershed review deals with acidic issues in the water related to production at the proposed LNG Terminal facility, reviewing any potential impacts on the City's water supply, on vegetation and  soil in the region, as well as on the marine environment in the area.

Her conclusions, which appear on pages 37- 40 of her report, were the genesis of much of what Mr. Long's overview provided for, though in a fairly more expansive approach.

With Dr. Faggetter providing far more detail on the impact of potential pollutants on the Prince Rupert airhshed and a more detailed analysis of how the City may wish to address it's drinking water requirements,  so as to reduce the likelihood of using water from Shawatlans Lake.

As Dr. Faggetter mentioned, her report was limited in scope to the review of the air and water concerns from any development of Lot 444.

Not mentioned in either of the reports were thoughts on any other topics of potential concern.

One item not addressed in these early days, was the proposed travel route of those LNG tankers which would be calling on any Terminal development along Tuck Inlet.

A transit which would see the LNG shipment vessels travel from the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbour South of Digby Island, working their way across the entire length of Prince Rupert harbour with a turn then into Tuck inlet before returning back down the Inlet to the Terminal location proposed for the east side of the shoreline there.

From South of Digby Island to that location, those vessels would be transiting the same area as a fleet of fishing vessels from the Canfisco Fish plant on the city's east side. As well along the way there would be the range of vessel traffic of the anchorages along the harbour, pleasure craft at the Yacht club and associated floats at Rushbrook and Seal Cove. In addition, there is also a fair amount of activity in that area related to the Sea plane traffic landing and taking off from the Seal Cove air terminals.

Making that particular route one of the more congested of transits that the haroubur waters of Prince Rupert may have to offer.

Potential issues we imagine, which may be investigated further through any of the Environmental and other review processes required for the project to move forward.

Then there are what could be the potential concerns of those living on the east side of the City.

An area of town where residents may prefer that any industrial development of LNG terminals take place at industrial sites located away from the urban area.  Such as those current proposals currently listed for the Lelu Island site, Ridley Island, Grassy Point and even the south shore of Digby Island.

Tuesday's information session provided an interesting review of the city's plans, a good portion of it offering the focus as to how much revenue the City could gain from such a development.

An important aspect for the City, which could raise much needed tax revenues from the large industrial development to direct to any number of civic issues.

A shift in the current revenue model when it comes to large projects, which would see the City be able to avoid such financial constraints as the PILT  (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) requirements that many other industrial sites in the region are subject to.

However the plan for Tuck Inlet and the process ahead still raises any number of questions that have yet to be answered, or addressed by Council. Making for much that residents may wish to stay up to date on, as Council considers its options for Lot 444.

You can review both of those reports from this link to the City's website.

For more background on the Tuck Inlet proposal and Lot 444 issues see our archive page here.

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