Terrace city council heard presentations at its March 24 meeting about natural gas pipeline planning with representatives from one pipeline company going over its successes followed by a group of angling advocates arguing that one proposed route for another pipeline poses threats to local pristine fishing areas.
Spectra Energy official Graham Genge spoke of his company’s 850-kilometre pipeline plan to pump gas from two fields in the northeast to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant to be built by the multi-national BG Group near Prince Rupert.
Spectra is calling its project the Westcoast Connector and has just submitted an application for a preliminary review to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, the first step to what will be a formal review of the project in the months ahead.
Genge spoke of Spectra’s contacts with communities along the proposed route, including rebuilding a ball field in remote Takla Lake north of Fort St. James and helping rebuild a Nisga’a smoke house in the Nass Valley last summer.
The company envisions two pipelines, each 48 inches in diameter, along a single right of way which would travel through the Nass Valley before turning south to the Prince Rupert area.
Jim Culp from the BC Steelhead Society followed Genge, telling council it should be more involved in pipeline routing.
He was specifically concerned with another pipeline project, this one being proposed by Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) to twin its existing natural gas pipeline from the Prince George area through to Kitimat to supply a proposed small LNG plant.
PNG’s project would consist of a pipeline 24 inches in diameter traveling 525 kilometres for the most part in parallel, where feasible, with the company’s existing line. A new route, however, would be needed between Telkwa and the Lakelse Lake area.
Culp argued that the impact on a pristine steelhead fishing spot up the Copper River is too great and that PNG should consider alternate routing instead of going through the Telkwa Pass. He said following the Hwy16 is on common sense answer.
Some of the best steelhead-bearing streams in the world are located in the area and they support guiding businesses, he added.
“Slides are not uncommon. We know there have been some pretty serious slides in this area,” said Culp. He told of how the previous gas pipeline through the area was destroyed by flooding, causing PNG to relocate it.
Culp also said the pristine nature of the area draws anglers from the outside.
“We would like your assistance and your help to convince PNG to seriously look at Highway 16 as an alternate route for a pipeline and as well the existing routes through the Telkwa pass.” He added that a second option would be to tunnel through the pass.
During council discussion, councillors Bruce Bidgood and Lynne Christiansen both said they enjoyed the Copper River area.
“I have spent a fair amount of time fishing up the Copper,” said Bidgood. “I found the remnants of the previous route an abomination; to see sections of pipeline exposed or laying around seems to me not defensible.”
“I walked through the Telkwa pass many years ago with my father. You can’t put a price on it. It’s just terrifying and heartbreaking to think what could happen… We have to follow this closely and look at what alternatives are there,” said Christiansen.
Council is asking PNG to a future meeting to discuss routing.