Coastal GasLink, currently north of BC.
The $170,100 fine is the result of inspections carried out along the pipeline route in October, a year after the company’s erosion and sediment control problems were first identified by researchers at the state’s Office of Environmental Assessment.
In enforcing the penalty, the EAO noted that the company’s continued violations resulted in significant “adverse effects on water quality, wetlands and fish habitat, and potential adverse effects on fish and other aquatic life.”
They may also have harmed the rights of Indigenous nations, he said.
While First Nation group councils on the pipeline route have signed deals with the company, Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary leadership is vehemently opposed to the project, and recent disagreements have focused on the company’s plans to drill under the Morice River, also known as the Wedzin Kwa.
The regulator found that at 20 sites it inspected along the pipeline route, Coastal GasLink failed to stabilize exposed soil or to implement appropriate erosion control measures that allowed sediments to flow into fish-bearing streams, lakes and wetlands. The emerging potential for impacts on fish and fish habitat has been raised by the Wet’suwet’en Office as a concern for over a decade.
In an email to The Tyee, a spokesperson for Coastal GasLink said the company is committed to “safe and environmentally sound” pipeline construction and recognizes that “protecting the environment is a core value for our Indigenous and northern community partners and for all British Columbians.”
Coastal GasLink’s statement said it took immediate action to resolve the issues and “will continue to cooperate with the EAO and all other regulatory bodies to meet their requirements.”
The recently announced penalty comes after the company was fined $72,500 in February for similar violations.
After first flagging the problems in October 2020, the EAO issued an order requiring the company to control sediment flowing into waterways and to hire an independent erosion and sediment control inspector. Subsequent warnings and penalties are given in this first order.
“The order was written to direct CGL to control the risk of sediment transport to environmentally sensitive receptors by stabilizing exposed surface material, taking erosion and sediment control measures, and ensuring that the measures continue to work as intended,” the EAO’s latest publication said. penalty assessment
“Failure to meet EN2020-011 Executive Order requirements has resulted in observed adverse effects on water quality, wetlands and fish habitat, and potential adverse effects on fish and other aquatic life.”
In summarizing the ongoing violations, the latest EAO decision noted that project inspections in April and May last year led to the first administrative penalty in February.