LOCAL SECONDARY school students say they learned a lot about the B.C. prospects of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry at a three-day event held in Vancouver Oct. 14-16.
Called Gamechanger, the event was held in conjunction with a larger LNG conference sponsored by the province featuring energy companies and others.
Five Terrace students and eight others from this school district participated.
Students heard presentations on energy and LNG, and for many of them it was their first chance to learn what LNG is, how it is produced and transported and how it interacts with the environment.
Grade 11 Caledonia student Bronson Johnson said his highlight of the trip was an LNG presentation where an industry expert took LNG, poured it on water, watched it become a gas and dissipate, and then drank the water.
“He showed everybody how it wasn’t hurtful to the environment,” Johnson told the school board at its Oct. 28 meeting. “If he can drink it, I think the fish can handle it.”
Johnson said that before the conference he did not know much about LNG, except that it was better than Enbridge, but now that he is informed he is confident enough to take a stance on it.
“I would definitely say I am pro-LNG now,” he said in a later interview. “I realize that it is going to bring a lot of jobs to the northwest, and it is clean in comparison to other usages such as coal which we are trying to replace.”
Grade 9 Skeena Secondary School students Brynja Sandhals and Mya McMillan said they knew very little about LNG before the conference.
They learned a lot about how it is transported and used, but did not walk away without concerns.
McMillan said she had previously heard concerns from other people about fracking, the manner in which chemicals and water are injected deep underground to free up natural gas deposits. Though that was discussed at the conference, she still had questions.
She and Sandhals also both had concerns about greenhouse gases.
“When they poured the LNG on the water, I saw that it evaporated from the water but once it goes away, it doesn’t quite go away. It stays in our atmosphere,” said Sandhals.
If there was a pipeline leak, Sandhals said it would not damage what is on the ground, but her concern is the air – particularly because LNG cannot be used in closed spaces, as it replaces oxygen in the air.
Chaperone Doug Brewer said he also thought LNG presentations were informative.
“No power source that we utilize is perfect, but this is an opportunity to reduce the amount of pollution that is coming from some of the other fuels that are being used around the world,” he said.
He said concerns were acknowledged and not downplayed, particularly by one presenter, who took questions and presented the risks and benefits of LNG.
“He didn’t encourage you to take his particular point of view, but he sort of laid out the facts in a way that I thought he was being fair about it,” Brewer said.
Besides learning about LNG, students also looked at careers, opportunities and innovations in the energy industry. They visited Science World and the BCIT campus, where they toured trades departments.
Trades was the second big focus of the conference, with engaging 15-minute talks as well as fun, hands-on activities for students. They tried things like carpentry and welding, testing and building electric circuits, and testing reflexes to drive trucks and heavy duty equipment.
Those were run through WorkBC’s Find Your Fit and Skills Canada BC’s First Hand Activities.