FortisBC proposes to build a 24-inch high pressure pipeline through Squamish neighbourhoods, with a nine kilometer tunnel underneath the Squamish estuary and river to supply Woodfibre LNG with fracked gas.
A compressor station to move the gas along the pipeline will be located either on Mt Mulligan (behind Valleycliffe) or at the Woodfibre site.
FortisBC has also proposed a 7 hectare workcamp for 600 workers near Quest University that will be accessed via Mamquam Forest Service Road, which will have significant social impacts for Squamish and communities around Howe Sound.
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Here's what you need to know:
24-inch high pressure pipeline puts residents at risk
The pipeline is currently proposed to run past Ravens Plateau, along Finch Drive, and through the Industrial Park in Squamish. These areas have many new homes and businesses, and many homeowners are completely unaware that a 24-inch high pressure pipeline is proposed through their neighbourhood.
FortisBC has refused to release its risk analysis for the pipeline route, so we conducted a hazard assessment using ALOHA, which is a widely-used computer program designed to model fires and explosions for emergency responders and planners.
The resulting maps show how families and businesses along the pipeline route in Squamish and Coquitlam are at risk from pressure waves (as a result of an explosion) and radiative effects (from a resulting fire).
People that live or work along the pipeline route could suffer potentially lethal radiative effects (up to 330 metres), second degree burns (up to 460 metres), and pain (up to 715 metres). Pressure waves from a worst-case scenario accident could result in destruction of buildings (up to 360 metres), serious injury (up to 570 metres), and shatter glass (up to 1,275 metres).
Homes that are located near high-pressure gas pipelines often have decreased property value, and several families have already sold their homes because they didn't want to live in the high hazard zone for FortisBC's proposed pipeline.
There are safer alternative routes for this pipeline, so why is FortisBC recklessly putting people that live or work along the pipeline route at risk?
Acid rock drainage and metal leaching
FortisBC proposes to drill a 14 foot wide, nine kilometer tunnel from the BC Rail Lands, underneath the Squamish estuary and river. This could result in permanent acid rock drainage and metal leaching, similar to the toxic pollution that poisoned the lands and waters around Britannia Beach for decades.
FortisBC has currently proposed a water treatment facility that will discharge into the Squamish River, but who will be responsible for maintaining this once the project is over?
There is no current plan to dispose of the dredge spoil from this tunnel.
Where will the compressor station go?
Compressor stations pressurize the gas so it can move along the pipeline. FortisBC originally proposed the compressor station to be located in the Industrial Park. Thanks to significant community pressure FortisBC relocated the compressor station (with no community consultation) to just behind Valleycliffe on Mt Mulligan, roughly 1.8 km from Ravens Plateau, Crumpit Woods, and Valleycliffe, in a direct line-of-sight approximately 400 metres above these neighbourhoods.
This compressor station will have a significant impact on the quality of life for people living in these neighbourhoods.
More community pressure from Valleycliffe residents has since forced FortisBC to apply for permission to move the compressor station to the Woodfibre site in 2020, however the final location is not certain, and FortisBC could choose either location.
If the compressor station is located on Mt Mulligan, it threatens the drinking water infrastructure for all of Squamish, and increases wildfire risk. The typical evacuation radius is 1.6 km up to 3 km, and Valleycliffe has one access road in and out. Large explosions and resulting damage can wipe out everything for 3+ km. Two schools are located in or near the 3 km evacuation boundary.
An explosion or fire at the compressor station or along the pipeline puts the surrounding forest and neighbourhood at risk from wildfire. In a dry summer, a malfunction or spark will result in an immediate wildfire of about 16 hectares. In these same dry conditions, we expect this wildfire to reach Valleycliffe homes in less than 15 minutes. This time is reduced to less than 5 minutes with a southerly wind.
Social impacts of work camps
FortisBC has proposed a 7 hectare workcamp for 600 workers near Quest University that will be accessed via Mamquam Forest Service Road. FortisBC has applied for an amendment to their Environmental Assessment Certificate to increase the size of the camp from 2 to 7 hectares to allow parking for 600 trucks. FortisBC will also need to apply to the District of Squamish for either a Temporary Use Permit or to rezone the land to allow for a workcamp.
Studies during construction of similar industrial projects with large numbers of temporary construction workers have resulted in:
- increased number of workplace accidents.
- increased substance abuse and misuse.
- increased traffic accidents and collisions.
- increased rate of violent crime, including sexual assault and sexualized violence, and increased domestic violence.
- increased violence against Indigenous women and children.
- increased rates of prostitution.
- increased demands on hospitals, counseling, police, and ambulance services, which results in reduced service capacity for residents.
- increased risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.
- waste disposal issues.
What you can do:
Stay tuned for more actions...
Amnesty International (2016) Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Gender, Indigenous Rights, and Energy Development in Northeast British Columbia, Canada.
Kevin Maimann (2018) Link between rural work camps and violence against women is real, researchers say. The Star Edmonton, published 2018-12-04
Northern Health (2018) Health and Safety During the Opioid Overdose Emergency:Northern Health’s Recommendations for Industrial Camps. Office of Health and Resource Development. Version 1.5. August 2018.
Northern Health (2017) Communicable Disease Control Plan Best Management Guide for Industrial Camps. Office of Health and Resource Development. Version 2.2. July 2017.
Secwepemcul'ecw Assembly (2019) What are man camps? Accessed 2019-04-20
"“Camp culture” has been reported to exacerbate isolation, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, misogyny, and racism among the men living there. Away from family, friends, and social supports, these men face stressful, difficult, and potentially dangerous working conditions, including long hours, shift work, and ‘two-week in, two-week out’ work schedules. In this environment, and with heightened disposable incomes, increased substance abuse is well documented."
Clarice Eckford and Jillian Wagg (2014) The Peace Project: Gender Based Analysis of Violence against Women and Girls in Fort St. John. Prepared for the Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society.
Joanna Smith (2016) Fort St. John 'a dangerous place for our women,’ indigenous activist says. The Star, published 2016-04-03
Peter Rugh (2013) Inside Fracking's 'Man Camps', Where Sex, Drugs, and Gonorrhea Run Rampant. Motherboard, published 2013-10-18
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