According to an inspection record published by the provincial Environmental Assessment Office, or EAO, Woodfibre started construction of a new passenger dock and a breakwater, or jetty, before giving the required three months’ notice to the office.
The report, which was published on Feb. 23, said that an enforcement officer from the EAO obtained a project update on Oct. 21, 2022.
Among the information that was presented, there was a schedule that included the construction of a new passenger dock and breakwater, which was slated to start in mid-November. The EAO requested and received more information on the project that month.
The EAO inspection report noted that the replacement dock requires the installation of new piles, and the breakwater is a new piece of infrastructure, which requires seabed disturbance to install plate anchors.
These activities, the report says, constitute construction as defined under the project’s environmental assessment certificate. As a result, this breaches the conditions.
“The holder [Woodfibre LNG] is not compliant with the requirement to notify [compliance and enforcement] staff in writing that construction has begun,” reads the report.
The EAO sent a warning letter to Woodfibre LNG on Feb. 10.
“It was determined that Woodfibre LNG General Partner Inc. (the Certificate Holder) is not compliant with preconstruction notification and submission requirements of the certificate,” reads the letter.
“The inspection confirmed that the project commenced construction on or about Nov. 16, 2022, via the construction of a passenger dock and associated infrastructure. EAC E15-02, Clause 2, requires that the Certificate Holder notify EAO [Compliance and Enforcement Branch], in writing, three months prior to commencing construction.”
The EAO let the company off with a warning but told Woodfibre the maximum penalty for failure to comply with an Environmental Assessment Certificate is $1 million. Each subsequent conviction can carry a fine of up to $2 million.
In response, Woodfibre LNG issued a written statement to The Squamish Chief that the work they had done was related to safety concerns.
Spokesperson Jayne Czarnocki said that when the company took ownership of the land, it inherited a deteriorated dock that had become unsafe for use.
“To address the safety issue and immediate need for a replacement dock, Woodfibre LNG started work to upgrade the existing dock and breakwater,” said Czarnocki.
“Our environmental assessment certificate (EAC) allows for the upgrade of existing infrastructure to meet safety requirements and we believe that the passenger dock upgrade aligned with the EAC definition of upgrade. We communicated our plan to undertake this work to the EAO, who then carried out an administrative inspection (desk review) to compare our scope of work against the EAC definition. Throughout this process we have been open and transparent with the EAO, providing details pertaining to the exact nature of the work. The EAO determined that the replacement dock work is outside the scope of what the EAO defines as an upgrade.”
She said that as a result of the EAO’s warning, the company is stopping all work related to replacing the dock. The company will remain in contact with the office.
In the meantime, the work that has already been done on the dock is enabling safe access until installation can resume, Czarnocki said.
“Woodfibre LNG acknowledges and respects the EAO’s determination and will work closely with them to ensure this work, and future work is compliant,” she said.
On the other hand, a local environmental activist group, My Sea to Sky, criticized the company in a written statement.
“This is yet another shocking example of how Woodfibre LNG is cutting corners and failing to comply with basic regulations in its rush to start construction,” said Tracey Saxby, executive director of the organization.
“This is not the kind of behaviour that we expect of a good corporate citizen in the Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound Biosphere Region. We’re pleased that both the federal and provincial regulators are paying close attention to Woodfibre LNG to hold this company accountable.”