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02.20.20 / Community

Adjusting our approach to address impacts

As a utility, meeting the energy needs of our customers is what FortisBC does every day. That’s why when our customer Woodfibre LNG asked us if we could deliver natural gas to them, we began to explore how, and proposed the Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas Pipeline (EGP) Project.

We began by talking with the community right away. We’re proud to have served our customers in Squamish since 1990, when we originally built the natural gas transmission line to serve Squamish, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. The EGP project is an expansion of this system, and involves building about 47 kilometres of new 24-inch natural gas pipeline starting north of the Coquitlam watershed and ending at the proposed Woodfibre LNG site.

In 2016, the project was approved as part of the Squamish Nation’s environmental assessment agreement, which is the first of its kind in Canada. The provincial government also approved the project and issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC). But the work doesn’t end there; today, we’re working to develop the condition management plans that were included as part of the EAC by consulting with First Nations, local governments and key stakeholders.

We’re continuing to talk with stakeholders, communities and First Nations to refine the route to minimize impacts, and also make it as safe and practical as possible.

Susie Sengupta Project Director, FortisBC

We’re also continuing to review and fine-tune our engineering design for the project.

Susie Sengupta, project director, FortisBC explains why this is so important. “Best practices are always improving,” she says. “We must make sure we stay current and also incorporate the latest advancements into our design.”

Throughout this review process our project team is out in the community, actively gathering information. During 2019, geotechnical investigations helped us learn more about soil and rock conditions along the pipeline route, which is important information for our engineering design and construction.

Our overall review has helped us determine that some potential changes to the original EAC may be required.  While these proposed amendments are being considered, and throughout the entire amendment process, we’ll continue to engage with the community to ensure its feedback is considered.

We’re proposing the following four amendments:

Proposal #1: Stawamus reroute

We would reroute an eight-kilometre section of the proposed pipeline in the Stawamus Valley to incorporate feedback we received from Squamish Nation during consultation. The pipeline route would move from the west side to the east side of the Stawamus River and allow us to reduce impacts to vegetation and wildlife. The pipeline’s size, capacity and operating pressure would remain the same.

Proposal #2: Squamish compressor station

In response to feedback we received from the community, we’re proposing a new location for the Squamish compressor station at the Woodfibre LNG site, which is more than seven kilometres away from the nearest residences. This location would also minimize construction impacts as it’s a previously disturbed industrial site.

There are still a number of steps that we need to take to make sure this alternative location will work, which include geotechnical investigation work and regulatory approvals. Until this work is complete, we’ll continue to advance our planning for both the Mt. Mulligan location and this proposed site. For both locations, we’ve modified the design of the station to reduce horsepower and emissions.

Proposal #3: Eagle Mountain compressor station

We would increase the size of the two new electric powered compressor units at the existing Eagle Mountain compressor station in Coquitlam. We will also reconfigure the station to accommodate this expansion within the existing footprint, minimizing the environmental and visual impacts of this work.

The horsepower of each electric powered compressor unit will increase from 20,500 horsepower to 26,000. Manufacturers of these units have modified the products they offer since we received our Environmental Assessment Certificate in 2016, resulting in the increased horsepower.

Proposal #4: Three-kilometre pipeline twinning

We would build a twinned three-kilometre section of our existing pipeline in Coquitlam to add capacity and increase the reliability of our natural gas supply to Woodfibre LNG. The new 24-inch pipeline would run parallel to the existing 12-inch pipeline along the current right of way.

While our existing pipeline is within the Coquitlam River Watershed, we’re twinning this three-kilometre section outside of the watershed to minimize environmental impact.