TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline project is in hot water with British Columbia’s environmental regulator for failing to meet the conditions of a compliance agreement that was supposed to correct a lengthening history of violations of the project’s environmental permit.
The Environmental Assessment Office posted an order to its website late Friday, issued to Coastal GasLink Oct. 14, which was based on an Oct. 4 inspection by EAO enforcement officers who found the company’s contractors were “not compliant with the requirements of the agreement and specific work execution plans.”
The order also required Coastal GasLink to stop work on construction in areas covered by the agreement “unless in full compliance” with its terms.
Coastal GasLink, in a statement Saturday, said the EAO’s order was issued “without prior notice or explanation,” and is working with the agency “to understand the specifics of the order.”
In the meantime, although the order states “construction may not occur,” in identified areas unless they comply with terms of the compliance agreement, Coastal GasLink said it “understands that we were and continue to be compliant with this order.”
In the unattributed statement, Coastal GasLink contends that during and following the inspection, which occurred Oct. 4 and 5, “there has been no indication that there is imminent harm to the environment,” and that mitigation measures “were installed in accordance with EAO approved work execution plans.”
Coastal GasLink and the EAO arrived at the compliance agreement July 13 aimed at improving the company’s approach to preventing erosion and sediment control around sensitive waterways covering a 100 kilometre section of the pipeline route where ground had not yet been broken.
The now $11 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline is being built to link LNG Canada’s $18 billion LNG plant being built near Kitimat with gas fields in B.C.’s northeast.
The EAO has issued dozens of warnings, 16 orders and two fines against Coastal GasLink and its contractors since work started on the project with many of the violations related to allowing erosion or sediment into sensitive waterways.
In the compliance agreement, the EAO observed that clearing ground for construction — referred to as grubbing and stripping — increased the risks for erosion and sediment flows and required contractors to appoint a qualified professional to develop sediment-control components in work execution plans.
Those plans were to spell out their contractors’ understanding of what streams in work areas might be at risk and apply measures to minimize erosion or sediment flows.
Coastal GasLink issued a statement on July 14 outlining its commitment to that compliance agreement, including providing erosion and sediment control training to more than 400 workers and contractors.
However, the EAO’s Oct. 14 order states that Coastal GasLink “must cease all variations from an approved work execution plan that are not in accordance with the agreement,” and must “cease installation of measures that are not specified in a work execution plan.”
The order did not specify how Coastal GasLink was in violation of its compliance agreement.
The latest order is separate from a Sept. 27 warning letter EAO issued to Coastal GasLink, which identified the project’s failure to conduct a habitat assessment to identify endangered or threatened plants or “ecological communities” in a work area and was at risk of a fine.
The July inspection report that the warning was based on identified five instances where Coastal GasLink was not in compliance with its environmental certificate, including three related to failures around sediment and erosion control.