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Government to fund air shed study in local region
The Province of B.C. is kicking in $650,000 for a scientific study to figure out how the area's air shed will handle emissions from liquefied natural gas plants and other proposed developments.
The funding for The Kitimat Airshed Impact Assessment, provided by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Gas Development, was announced on October 3.
Environment Minister Mary Polak said the studies will help guide the government in setting regulations for companies wanting to develop in Kitimat.
"What is really important for us to do," said Polak, "is to make sure we're looking at not just each individual project, but understanding how they will fit into the puzzle with respect to the total emissions from the project when they're all built out, potentially."
She continued to say that the air shed study will help guide how the proposed projects are designed and built, "so they [companies] would understand the technical requirements needed for their facilities, and we use that information to guide us as to what requirements we give them."
Polak was in Kitimat on October 2 for a tour of the Douglas Channel and to meet with local politicians.
The project will also look at emissions from the existing Rio Tinto Alcan smelter, the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway export facility, and gas turbine powered electricity generation facilities, in addition to three proposed LNG export operations.
The study would also have to take into consideration local projects such as the Terrace Energy Centre proposed by Veresen Inc, a large electrical generation facility run on natural gas that would be constructed on the Skeena Industrial Park lands near the airport.
The study is said to focus on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the facilities.
According to Environment Canada, sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a colourless gas that is also the main cause of acid rain, which can damage crops, forests and whole ecosystems. Nitrogen oxides have been identified as one of the principal precursors to ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.
The study will assess the impact of emissions, including their potential effects on water and soil as well as on vegetation and human health from direct exposure.
A request for proposals to conduct the study will be issued, and Polak said that she expects the work on the study to conclude in March 2014.
The ministry has also hired contractors who will be gathering samples as early as next week as well, which will be provided to the eventual successful bidder.
In a news release, Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said that the plan is part of the steps to keep B.C. as an environmental leader.
"This study will ensure our airshed plan for Kitimat is comprehensive, so the quality of life in the area is upheld while jobs and economic prospects increase as a result of LNG and industrial development."
With files from Cameron Orr, Kitimat Northern Sentinel