Environmentalists sound alarm over proposed LNG project in Delta

WATCH: The National Energy Board has approved a plan to bring up to 120 LNG tankers through the south arm of the Fraser River each year. Keith Baldrey reports.

Of the 19 proposed LNG projects in British Columbia, only one is located in Metro Vancouver.

But now that it’s been given an export licence by the National Energy Board, environmentalists are expressing concern over the Tilbury Island project in Delta.

LNG 101: Where the LNG industry currently is at in British Columbia

“The most important questions haven’t been asked about this project, and it’s moving ahead quite rapidly,” says Kevin Washbrook, with the group Voters Taking Action on Climate Change.

“No one’s asked if it’s a good idea to build an LNG terminal on the Fraser, and if it makes any sense to have LNG tankers going up and down the river.”

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There’s been an LNG plant on Tilbury Island for 40 years, owned by FortisBC. The company is currently expanding it, and Wespac Midstream has now gained a license to export 3.5 million tonnes a year.

The Canadian Environment Assessment Agency is taking public comments until June 11.

Washbrook says could mean up to 120 new tankers in the Fraser River every year, and argues a larger study needs to be done for all facets of the project.

“If you were to build a terminal like this in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard would say you’ve got to conduct a waterway suitability assessment along the entire LNG tanker transit route, up to a distance of 3.5 kilometres out,” he says.

“In this project, there’s no study at all of the route, and the proponent says that’s not our responsibility.”

The provincial government has asked the federal government if they can have responsibility for the environmental assessment – which also worries Washbrook.

“Given how gung-ho our government is on LNG exports, I don’t think we can expect a comprehensive, objective review. It’s like putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse.”