One year after ordering the owners of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to fix multiple environmental violations identified along its 670-kilometre construction route, and being more or less ignored, the British Columbia government of Premier John Horgan is trying again.
Running from just west of Dawson Creek in northeastern B.C. to Kitimat on the northern coast—and crossing 625 ecologically sensitive waterways, some of which are prime fish habitat—the C$6.6-billion project remains rife with sediment and erosion problems, reports the CBC News.
Responding to the discovery of more than two dozen such problems, many of them long-standing, B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has issued two enforcement orders against the pipeline project, demanding that measures be taken to finally control erosion and stop the sediment flows that suffocate fish eggs and deplete the viability of aquatic systems.
The new provincial orders come almost a year to the day after the EAO issued its first report outlining Coastal GasLink’s egregious failure to protect prime fish habitats and wetlands from sediment flows, despite laying out clear plans to do so in its own Environmental Management Plan. As reported by The Tyee this past January, the EAO report also demanded that the company take immediate remedial action to prevent sediment from “flowing from its construction sites into environmentally sensitive areas, like watercourses and wetlands, by stabilizing banks, creating working erosion control measures, and maintaining them after construction is completed.”
Responding to the new enforcement orders, Coastal GasLink told CBC News it has taken “immediate action to remedy the EAO reports’ findings of non-compliance.”
The company also tried to defend its environmental record, saying that while it respected the EAO findings, they were merely “a snapshot at the time of the inspection.”
Erosion and sediment control “is dynamic and changes constantly,” added Coastal GasLink spokesperson Natasha Westover. “We adapt along the way and are constantly evaluating.”
But Mike Ridsdale, environmental assessment coordinator with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, whose traditional territory is being bisected by the pipeline route, observed that “CGL is getting a lot of non-compliance reports written up. When is enough?”
While “these violations are amended by writing a simple report stating that the error has been rectified,” Ridsdale added, no amount of error correction can remedy damage already done.