Monday, January 18, 2016

DFO, Natural Resources Canada documents to CEAA support Pacific NorthWest LNG findings on impacts on Lelu Island

A number of documents submitted
to the CEAA last week find common
ground with recent scientific studies
from Pacific NorthWest LNG
(Photos from PNW LNG website)
A submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency from Natural Resources Canada would appear to find a recent review from the government agency sharing many of the same conclusions as the scientific studies released by Pacific NorthWest LNG.

Of interest to those following the discussions over Lelu Island in recent months, will be a key passage of the material provided by Natural Resources Canada that indicates that there will be no significant effects expected from the proposed trestle system that would cross Flora Bank and low risk to commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries on the North Coast.

The stream of documentation for the most part points to common agreement with much of the work put into the project by Pacific NorthWest LNG scientists to this point.

With many of the points from both approaches seemingly reaching different conclusions than those delivered from a Science Report released by the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation from last fall, which was very critical of the plan to develop the LNG terminal in the area of Flora Bank.

In a letter from January 13th, Natural Resources Canada provides three reports on their work on their scientific review, also included in the documentation review from last week is a correspondence from the Department of Fisheries that reviews their research on the topic as well.

In addition to their detailed observations from their report, Natural Resources Canada also highlighted the nature of the work put in by Pacific NorthWest LNG researchers, highlighting the various scientific modelling that the company put towards the studies on impact in the region.

NRCan officials would like to acknowledge the significant amount of time and effort put forth in this review by PNW LNG and their consultants; federal scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and NRCan; and, Aboriginal groups and their technical representatives. These efforts have resulted in a scientifically defensible modeling approach improving the understanding of the potential effects of the marine structures on site hydrodynamic and sediment patterns. The results from the modeling studies are key to the assessment of potential significant environmental effects on fish and fish habitat, including the important eel grass habitat of Flora Bank.

Of the three documents included in the review for the CEAA, attachment Number Two delivers some of the key elements related to the marine structures planned as part of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal project, noting that that they (Natural Resources Canada) have confidence in the nature of the research conducted on that aspect of the proposed project.

However, given the substantial amount of work and quantitative evidence provided by the Proponent to date, in NRCan’s view, the impact of the marine structures on currents, waves, sediment transport, and seabed morphology for various seasonal and storm conditions has been modelled with acceptable certainty and therefore, NRCan has confidence in the Proponent’s conclusions regarding sediment transport and morphological changes in the project area.

DFO concurs with the Proponent’s conclusions that no significant effects are expected from the marine structures (trestle pilings), with the south west tower and anchor block likely to cause the greatest disturbance. The impacts associated with these two large structures are predicted to be localized, resulting in a low risk to commercial, recreation and Aboriginal fisheries. Consequently, subject to a robust and long term monitoring program and implementation of effective mitigation measures, DFO has concluded that the effects of the marine structures on fish and fish habitat have been categorized as having a low potential of resulting in significant adverse effects.

The report adds that they are recommending to the CEAA that additional monitoring and follow up measures be put in place to verify model predictions and explore other mitigation issues.

The other documents as part of last weeks information review can be found below:

Attachment One
Attachment Three

Like those from Natural Resources Canada, the DFO comments on the proposed project also make mention of the efforts taken on by Pacific NorthWest LNG in developing their scientific review, as well as heralding the assistance provide by the Tsimshian First Nation as part of the overview of the projects scientific aspects.

DFO would like to acknowledge the effort and commitment of the Proponent to undertake a robust and science based 3D modeling exercise to assist in predicting effects to habitat in and around the project, including Flora Bank, and reducing the uncertainty of potential impacts the project may have on fish and fish habitat. The final 3D simulations and report would not have been possible without the scrutiny, input and assistance of the Tsimshian First Nations, Natural Resources Canada and the Agency.

The DFO review also includes a wide range of recommendations on mitigation to avoid any adverse environmental effects.

You can review those recommendations and examine the rest of the DFO observations on the scientific research from the report provided here.

Further documentation provided to the CEAA from the correspondence file in the CEAA's Review page for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project

Opponents of the proposed terminal such as the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition and Friends of Wild Salmon have yet to deliver their rebuttal to the documentation of last week through their usual information portals of their website or Social media options..

Greg Horne, a spokesman for the group did offer up the observation to the Globe and Mail that the "federal findings ignore the peer-reviewed published science conducted by the Lax Kw'alaams science team".

You can review that statement and find more background on the theme here.

It's anticipated that the CEAA will deliver its final report on the proposed terminal project in the Spring.

As we noted on the blog last week, Petronas, the parent company for Pacific NorthWest LNG is awaiting that final report and further government approvals, with plans to make its decision on proposed development in this financial quarter.

For more items related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project see our archive page here.


  1. Thank you for this post, you have outlined the document and process really well! What does the time look like now for CEAA to open it to public comment?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for your thoughts.

    I believe that the CEAA will be delivering their report early this Spring, at least that was the last indication. The public consultation period would follow that I imagine.