Why the Woodfibre LNG terminal in B.C. must be stopped

On Monday, the Council of Canadians made a submission to the B.C. Environment Assessment Office calling on the B.C. government to reject the Woodfibre LNG project.


Proposed Squamish LNG Plant on the Howe Sound’s western shore. Image borrowed from Canada’s First Nations Radio.

If approved the Woodfibre terminal, seven kilometres from downtown Squamish, would produce roughly 2.1 million metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG), fracked gas that has been turned into liquid by cooling the gas to -163C. The LNG would then be shipped on tankers through Howe Sound for export.

Here’s why the Council of Canadians is calling for a stop to the Woodfibre LNG project:

  • It is one of 18 proposals to build LNG terminals along the Pacific Coast and could set a dangerous precedent if approved.
     
  • As noted by retired KPMG consultant Eoin Finn LNG tankers are categorized under Class 2 under the Maritime Dangerous Good Code for Shipping (1 being most dangerous, 9 being least dangerous). LNG tankers are massive vessels at 300 metres long (the equivalent to three football fields), 40 metres wide and 30 metres tall, are twice as big in width and height as a B.C. ferry and pose a unique threat to coastal communities if there were to ever be an explosion or accident.
     
  • The Squamish Woodfibre LNG plant will be cooled by sea-water from Howe Sound and every hour will discharge 17,000 tonnes of water - enough to fill seven Olympic-sized swimming pools - back into the Sound at 10°C above that of the intake. Hypochlorite will be added to the discharge to reduce growth of marine fouling organisms such as mollusks and oysters. This mixture will be discharged into Howe Sound 24 hours per day year round. We are concerned about how this will impact the marine ecosystem of Howe Sound.
     
  • The gas needed for even just five LNG terminals would increase fracking in the province, have significant impact on the lakes, rivers and streams in B.C. and would more than double BC’s current climate footprint.

Some members of Squamish Nation are opposed to the Woodfibre LNG terminal as well as its associated FortisBC pipeline. Fracking projects are happening on Indigenous lands without respect for First Nations Treaty Rights and Title. Governments must obtain free, prior and informed consent before proceeding with fracking and related projects.

Concerned citizens groups like My Sea to Sky have been mobilizing and raising concerns about how the Woodfibre LNG would impact communities, public safety, the economy and the environment.

Hundreds of residents attended public forums on LNG including in Squamish, Delta, Vancouver, Victoria, Powell River, and Comox Valley. Community opposition to the LNG terminals is building in the province.  

The District of Squmish recently rejected an application from B.C. utility FortisBC to study the feasibility for a pipeline that would transport natural gas for export. Earlier this month FortisBC launched a legal challenge against the district of Squamish at the B.C. Supreme Court.

While Premier Christy Clark has toned down the promotion of LNG since the drop in oil prices, the province continues to explore deals with LNG companies.  If Christy Clark is learning anything from the pipeline resistance in B.C., she’ll realize she is going to have another big fight on her hands if she continues to approve LNG projects through without social licence. And what's really needed is public debate on how the province can foster renewable energy and sustainable green jobs and paving the way for a clean energy future that protects water sources and respects Indigenous rights.

To read the Council of Canadians’ submission on the Woodfibre LNG project, click here.
To read more about the Council’s work on LNG, click here.