British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has issued two administrative penalties totaling $257,000 (CAD 346,000) to Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. (CGL) for non-compliance with the requirements of its environmental assessment certificate.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline aims to connect natural gas facilities west of Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export facility near Kitimat, which is also under construction. The 2014 environmental assessment certificate for the project requires CGL to develop and follow an environmental management plan, including measures to protect sensitive wetlands and waterways from sediment caused by erosion that can negatively impact water quality and fish habitat.
According to a news release from the regulator, a penalty of $252,000 (CAD 340,000) was related to deficiencies with erosion and sediment control measures identified by compliance and enforcement officers during four multi-day inspections along the pipeline construction route in April and May 2022. An additional penalty of $4,450 (CAD 6,000) was issued for CGL providing false and misleading information in October 2022 related to maintenance inspection records.
The financial penalties reflect the EAO’s “continued escalation of enforcement due to repeated non-compliance with EAO requirements”, the regulator said, as the new fines follow three previous penalties of January 2023, May 2022, and February 2022 for failing to adequately control erosion and sediment. The EAO said it has prioritized the CGL project for compliance monitoring due to “continued concerns” with nearly 100 inspections by air and ground since the project’s launch in 2019. The inspections led to the issuance of 59 warnings, 30 orders, which include 13 stop-work orders, and more than $593,000 (CAD 800,000) in fines.
In July 2022, the EAO said CGL entered into a compliance agreement with the province that required more proactive measures for the remaining 62 miles (100 kilometers) of pipeline construction where ground had yet to be broken. This was acknowledged by CGL in a news release responding to the penalties, and the company added that it “took immediate and decisive action to address” the erosion and sediment control events identified in April and May 2022.
Regarding the second penalty, CGL said the reporting error was “unintentional and regrettable” and due to an administrative contractor record discrepancy that was provided to the EAO between October 2022 and January 2023.
Recent inspections by the regulator showed CGL has been improving its management of erosion and sediment control under EAO oversight, though the wet weather in spring 2023 resulted in significant issues that led to multiple stop-work orders and orders to remedy, the EAO said. Additional fines are being considered associated with these orders, it said.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is now more than 94 percent complete and on track for mechanical completion at the end of the year, CGL said, adding that it continues to “make significant strides forward” in managing erosion and sediment events. The company said it continues to work closely with regulators “to improve and adapt our environmental protection measures”.
To contact the author, email firstname.lastname@example.org