Agreement struck to improve protection of waterways along pipeline route
The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. (CGL) have entered into a compliance agreement that requires CGL to follow more proactive measures to control erosion and sedimentation for all new construction along the CGL pipeline route.
The EAO and CGL have jointly recognized the need for this agreement as a positive additional step to address ongoing non-compliance with erosion and sediment-control requirements. The measures outlined in the agreement are intended to protect sensitive wetlands and watercourses from sedimentation caused by erosion, which can negatively impact fish, fish habitat, wildlife and other important values.
Under the agreement, CGL will be required to enhance staff training and provide stronger and more qualified leadership on site to oversee construction activities. They must also develop comprehensive, detailed erosion and sediment management plans for all new construction, prioritizing erosion prevention over sediment control. The plans must be reviewed by an independent erosion and sediment-control expert and approved by the EAO before any new ground can be broken. On-site inspections by an independent expert, as well as ongoing maintenance to prevent erosion and control sediment, will also continue in all areas of the project.
Failure to comply with the agreement can result in escalating enforcement action, up to and including stop-work orders by the minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
This is the first compliance agreement entered into under Section 55 of the 2018 Environmental Assessment Act. The act provides for enhanced measures to monitor and enforce compliance with the specific conditions required by the EAO for each environmental assessment certificate.
The agreement applies to approximately 100 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline where ground has yet to be broken. Existing requirements under the environmental assessment certificate for erosion and sediment control continue to apply to all activity along the pipeline route.
Inspections of sites under construction conducted in spring 2022 identified a number of issues of non-compliance with erosion and sediment-control requirements that still must be addressed by CGL. The EAO is considering further financial penalties based on these previously identified issues.
The EAO continues to monitor construction of the pipeline project to ensure potential impacts to the environment and wildlife are mitigated. EAO compliance and enforcement officers, as well as independent erosion and sediment-control auditors, will conduct ongoing inspections of construction activities. More than 50 inspections have been carried out since construction on the project began in 2018.
The CGL pipeline will connect natural gas facilities west of Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada export facility near Kitimat, which is also under construction.
When a project goes through the environmental assessment process and receives an environmental assessment certificate, the certificate contains legally binding requirements that must be followed for the life of the project. The requirements help mitigate potential negative environmental, social, cultural, health and economic impacts of a project. Ongoing compliance oversight, including inspections and, where required, enforcement action, ensure projects are designed, built, operated and decommissioned or reclaimed in compliance with these requirements.
For more information about the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project, search for “Coastal GasLink” on this website: https://projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/projects-list
For more information about the environmental assessment process, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/eao
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