A natural gas pipeline proposal is being toured through potentially impacted communities in the area.
The proposal to build a 700-kilometre natural gas pipeline that would pass through the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is being put forward for comment by the Canadian energy company TransCanada.
The $4-billion Coastal GasLink Pipeline project will transport natural gas from Dawson Creek to Kitimat for liquefaction at a terminal that LNG Canada – a corporation composed of Shell Canada Ltd., Korea Gas Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and PetroChina Company Ltd. – is proposing to build.
TransCanada plans to start conducting field studies next year and file the required regulatory documents with the federal and provincial government by 2014.
If the project is approved by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, TransCanada could begin pipeline construction as soon as 2015, said Bruce Wells, director of project planning and execution.
Even during these early planning stages, the company is underscoring its commitment to transparency and, where possible, incorporating public input into the project.
Since June, TransCanada says it has employed a special team to engage the leaders of some 30 First Nations communities through which the pipeline could be routed.
To date, the company has mailed 600 letters and met with more than 400 landowners within a four-kilometere zone of the proposed pipeline, called the centerline, located about 10 to 15 kilometers north of Vanderhoof.
“Once you establish a centerline, there will be a considerably less affected amount of landowners,” said Wells.
Mayor Gerry Thiessen and his administrative staff met with TransCanada officials in June to discuss the project. Since then, Thiessen has voiced his concerns about how the Coastal GasLink project could potentially impact policing and health care services in Vanderhoof.
“They need to be involved in the responsibility of that,” said Thiessen.
TransCanada’s presentation to Vanderhoof council came just days after the Oct. 17 release of a report by Northern Health on how resource-development workers residing in industrial camps could affect health care services in rural and remote communities across northern B.C.
During the presentation, Wells said TransCanada will locate camps near the centerline to minimize the impact of traffic on nearby communities.
Using polling, the company is attempting to understand more about Vanderhoof and the issues surrounding recreational services, growth pressures and, to some degree, pipeline projects.
“We try to get to know each community and find out what the impacts are going to be from our perspective,” said Wells.
With a purpose of creating new markets for natural gas in B.C., the Coastal GasLink project will generate an estimated $17 million of annual tax revenue between the affected districts, according to Wells.
But TransCanada has also been receiving some criticism recently for their safety practices.
An engineer who used to work for the company, after coming forward to CBC, triggered the National Energy Board to initiate an audit of the company sooner than originally planned. The audit will be looking at the company’s integrity management across their pipeline network, which includes the Keystone pipeline, which goes from northern Alberta to refineries in the United States.
The company also had an explosion on a six-month-old pipeline in Wyoming in July of 2011. The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined by regulators. The company, however, told CBC the damage to the pipeline most likely occurred during backfilling after construction, but the damage was not detected by company inspectors.
No one was injured in the explosion, which took place in a remote area, however the blast was felt more than a kilometre away.
Cameron Ginn and Ruth Lloyd