Woodfibre LNG receives key permit from B.C. government

A new fracked gas export facility near Squamish would produce the equivalent carbon emissions of putting 170,000 new cars on the roads each year. The project — owned by an Indonesian billionaire — also raises safety concerns about the transport of flammable gas through a heavily populated region.

Image result for the narwhal: Woodfibre LNG receives key permit from B.C. government
Tankers like these carrying liquefied natural gas, a highly flammable substance, will transit Howe Sound in southern British Columbia if the Woodfibre LNG project is built. Photo: Shutterstock

Woodfibre LNG, a liquefied natural gas export facility planned for Howe Sound on the southern B.C. coast, is a big step closer to construction following receipt of a key permit from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission on Tuesday.

The eight-page permit outlines the requirements the facility, owned by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto, must meet for design, construction and operation — including a tsunami hazard study, a flaring notification plan and reports on emissions such as noise and black smoke.

The waters of the 44-kilometre long Howe Sound fjord, flanked by the Coast Mountains, are home to fragile glass sponge reefs, salmon, herring, porpoises and whales. Long polluted by industries on its shores, including a large copper mine, Howe Sound was returning to life after extensive rehabilitation efforts when Woodfibre and other new industrial developments were proposed.

Woodfibre LNG president David Keane called the permit “a positive step forward” for the project, which would see LNG offloaded from floating storage tanks near Squamish to LNG carriers as long as six football fields.

The LNG carriers would traverse the island-studded waterways of Howe Sound three to four times a month, accompanied by three tugboats and two pilots familiar with B.C.’s coast,  according to the company.

Tankers carrying flammable gas will intersect ferry crossings  

Finn, who holds a PhD in physical chemistry, said the U.S. does not allow LNG plants or tankers within 3.5 kilometres of significant populated areas.

“That cargo is full of flammable gas with the thermal equivalent of 72 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs aboard.”

Carriers picking up Woodfibre LNG will intersect with four ferry crossings in waterways with both freighter and recreational boat traffic, Finn pointed out.

If a collision occurs and a loaded LNG tanker develops a hole, everything within 500 metres will be frozen, Finn said. Should a tanker carrying LNG catch fire, he said people up to 3.5 kilometres away will suffer severe burns. MORE

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