FortisBC has permission to pollute into Squamish River
October 14, 2023
FortisBC: permission to pollute
Last month we shared that FortisBC had applied to discharge wastewater at both ends of its 14-foot wide, 9-kilometer tunnel underneath the Squamish estuary.
In response to our complaints, the BC Energy Regulator had instructed FortisBC to re-do the 30-day public comment period. This meant that the permits that FortisBC had anticipated getting as early as June 2023 were on hold until the public comment period was completed, and the public had an opportunity to review these two applications.
Avoiding public scrutiny
Then on Friday September 29, 2023, the BC Energy Regulator informed us that they had issued FortisBC with a "temporary" permit under a different section of the Environmental Management Act, to discharge effluent directly into the Squamish River for 15 months to "enable construction timelines" for FortisBC's tunnel.
A captured regulator
A recent investigation by the Narwhal has revealed that the BC Energy Regulator is failing to hold big oil and gas projects accountable for infractions that are directly impacting sensitive ecosystems.
The BC Energy Regulator (formerly known as the BC Oil and Gas Commission) has been described as a captured regulator, where "industry demands trump public interest."
With a revolving door between its staff and the oil and gas industry, the regulator has a history of failing to hold fracking companies accountable for building illegal dams; withholding information and suppressing reports; and undermining effforts to save caribou threatened by fracking infrastructure in northeast B.C.
This track record is extremely concerning as the BC Energy Regulator is responsible for oversight of many of the permits required by Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC.
Is pipeline construction starting?
Yes and no.
At last week's open house for Woodfibre LNG we learned that construction of FortisBC's pipeline between Coquitlam and the BC Rail site in Squamish (roughly 38 km) is currently on hold due to "politics." When we asked what that meant we got the run-around: the sub-contractor told us to talk to FortisBC, and FortisBC told us the sub-contractor is sorting it out.
Our volunteers have recently driven the pipeline route from Squamish to Indian Arm, and checked out the Coquitlam end of the pipeline, and no construction is underway.
FortisBC sent a letter to key stakeholders on September 14, 2023, advising of road upgrades along the pipeline route from mid-September to December, but these have not started yet. READ THE NOTIFICATION LETTER
The road upgrades that are currently underway on Powerhouse Springs Road are related to the Squamish Canyon project, not FortisBC.
What's happening at the BC Rail site?
There is a lot of construction underway at the BC Rail site in Squamish, to prepare for the nine kilometer tunnel underneath the Squamish estuary.
Nearby residents have complained to us about noise as FortisBC has started prepping the tunnel portal. Security fences have gone up, concrete foundations have been poured, and lots of equipment is being stored on the site, including the tunnel boring machine that FortisBC tried to hide when it was delivered in June (READ OUR UPDATE).
FortisBC has already started laying pipe to pump water effluent into the Squamish River (see the photo above), and it's possible that excavation on the tunnel portal will begin soon.
What can you do?
There are many ways to take action, from signing petitions, to sending letters to elected leaders. TAKE ACTION NOW
We also need your eyes and ears on the ground. If you see something that is related to the FortisBC pipeline or Woodfibre LNG, please let us know.
We are very grateful to everyone that has shared what they are witnessing or experiencing on the ground so far. This information is critical so we can continue to hold Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC accountable.
Update to council + demonstration
District of Squamish staff are giving an update to council this Tuesday, October 17, 2023 (read the agenda).
This is an opportunity to learn more about what's happening with both Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC, and support council as they continue to hold these two companies accountable.
Please join us in gathering outside municipal hall to make it clear that we still say no to Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC!
We will take a photo and capture video at 5:45pm, and then those of us that want to quietly attend the council meeting will head inside at 6:00pm.
WHEN: 5:15 pm to 6:00 pm, Tuesday October 17, 2023
WHERE: Municipal Hall, Squamish BC
WHAT TO BRING: Dress for the weather and bring Stop Woodfibre LNG or Stop FortisBC signs if you have them. We will also have signs.
We'll be in touch next week with more ways you can help.
This is how we organize. This is how we win.
I hope to see you on Tuesday evening.
My Sea to Sky
My Sea to Sky is incredibly proud and grateful to say that we rely on the My Sea to Sky community for small donations that provide the majority of our funding. Since our launch in 2014, we have been funded through personal savings, family and friends; and powered by the passion of our volunteers. Your generous contribution will help us to run our critical campaigns to defend, protect, and restore Howe Sound. Can you chip in?