FortisBC is promising that while it is creating a second pipeline for its Eagle Mountain – Woodfibre Gas project, it won't be increasing gas flow, nor will it encroach more on the environment.
Darrin Marshall, the project's director, told The Squamish Chief that the goal of having a second pipe is to ensure stability and have a backup should maintenance be required on one or the other.
"The real reason we're doing that is for reliability reasons," said Marshall. "The tunnel will be inaccessible post-construction. And so in the event that, say, we need to take one line out of service to do our integrity management, to run our integrity management tools, we'll still be able to maintain service to Woodfibre."
The FortisBC project will supply gas to Woodfibre LNG, which is expected to produce 2.1 million metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year.
It's planned that this product will be shipped to Asia.
"It will not increase how much natural gas we flow to Woodfibre," said Marshall. "It will not increase the diameter of the tunnel. It will not significantly increase the duration of construction. And so, from an environmental impact perspective, there are no real incremental impacts."
The remarks were made during FortisBC's open house event on April 27 at the Executive Suites. There was no formal presentation. Instead, the event took the form of a meet-and-greet, with dozens of Squamish residents coming and going throughout the evening.
Marshall said each of the two pipes would carry about 50% of the capacity.
Officials chose to have both pipes operating to better monitor the system, Marshall said.
"We looked at two options. We looked at putting it in there as a spare that's not in operation, And then we looked at putting it into operation," said Marshall. "And the reason we opted to [to put it in] operation is so that we can actually monitor the ongoing condition. So if it wasn't connected, we wouldn't be able to run our integrity management tools to be able to monitor the condition."
He added that there would be no extra workers needed for the project.
The proposed FortisBC work camp — which was discussed a month ago — is to provide more housing for the workers that would already be working on the project, Marshall said. This would reduce or eliminate the need for workers to find housing in town, which is already feeling the squeeze of a housing crunch.
Marshall said that with Woodfibre's notice to proceed being filed, the Fortis project will go forward. He anticipated that shovels would hit the ground early next year.
During the event, various residents commented to The Squamish Chief about their impressions of the project.
Bianca Peters said one of the biggest factors in whether she'd approve of the project involved whatever amenities would be put forward.
"Let's find out what sort of community amenities we're going to get from this project," said Peters.
"I'm for the Spit, right? So I'd like to see some more stuff going on in the estuary. [And] maybe some sort of Fortis science centre, some parking, some jobs, obviously."
She also mentioned that she'd like to ensure that the project met environmental standards.
Another resident, Maurice Freitag, said all forms of energy have downsides.
"I would say I'm supportive of it," said Freitag. "But more from the perspective of, the world needs energy. [While] there's lots of talk of green energy, there's no green energy in the world, OK?
For example, he said, hydroelectricity has been responsible for killing a lot of salmon in town.
"The world needs energy," he said. "We have a lot of it. It's underutilized. And the rest of the world doesn't have a lot of it. So they want it, we have it. Let's try to make a deal."
Diane Hannah, a volunteer with the environmentalist group My Sea to Sky, expressed opposition to the project.
"There's nothing that they can do to make this a better project," Hannah said.
"Just the idea that they're looking to put in another [pipeline] as a backup tells me that maybe this isn't a very good idea. If they're even concerned that this construction is going to go wrong somewhere, why would they need another pipeline if this is going to be 100% safe?"
Another resident, Rob Askew, said he'd like to see good-paying jobs arrive in town and a solid tax base for the community.