British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has fined the Coastal GasLink (CGL) natural gas pipeline project $340,000, due to repeated non-compliance with EAO requirements during construction.
Inspections of the TC Energy pipeline project have led to the EAO issuing 59 warnings, 30 orders — including 13 stop-work orders — and more than $800,000 in fines since 2019.
When complete, the 670-kilometre, $6.6-billion pipeline will deliver natural gas from Dawson Creek to a facility near Kitimat, where LNG Canada will prepare it for export to global markets by converting it to liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
During four multi-day inspections along the pipeline construction route in April and May of 2022, compliance and enforcement officers noted deficiencies with the pipeline project’s erosion and sediment control measures.
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“As a result of continued concerns, the EAO has prioritized the CGL project for compliance monitoring, with nearly 100 inspections by air and ground since the project started in 2019,” states an announcement from the regulator.
An additional penalty of $6,000 was issued for providing false and misleading information in October 2022 related to maintenance inspection records, according to the EAO.
Following issues with the project, the province created a new compliance agreement in July 2022, which required more proactive measures for the remaining 100 kilometres of pipeline construction where ground had yet to be broken.
The project is legally bound by its 2014 environmental assessment certificate. The CGL team must follow an established environmental management plan, including measures to protect sensitive wetlands and waterways from sediment caused by erosion.
The EAO noted in a statement that the CGL project has been improving its management of erosion and sediment control, although the wet weather in spring 2023 resulted in significant issues that led to multiple stop-work orders and orders to remedy. The regulator stated that additional fines are being considered associated with these orders.
The latest financial penalties reflect the EAO’s continued escalation of enforcement due to repeated non-compliance with EAO requirements. The new fines follow three previous penalties of $213,600 (January 2023), $170,100 (May 2022) and $72,500 (February 2022) for failing to adequately control erosion and sediment.
“The EAO takes matters of compliance with the conditions of all environmental assessment certificates very seriously and has escalated enforcement action to address continued concerns with erosion and sediment control for the project,” the regulator announced in a statement.