Northern Gateway releases its engagement road map to locals

Draft plans created to meet National Energy Board conditions.

The Engagement Road Map presented by the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project team to Burns Lake community members Oct. 1 at the Tweedsmuir Park Rod and Gun Club laid out eight draft plans created to meet the 209 conditions needed for federal government approval.

The draft plans discussed at the Burns Lake information session included the pipeline environmental effects monitoring program, the marine environmental effects monitoring program, the marine mammal protection plan, the construction marine mammal protection plan, the traditional land use investigation plan, the construction environmental protection and management plan, the wetlands functional assessment plan and the socio-economic effects monitoring plan.

The pipeline environmental effects monitoring program is an initiative by Northern Gateway to meet conditions 27 to 29 and 30 to 32. The program’s purpose is to describe the current status of freshwater and terrestrial biota and their habitat. It will also identify any potential change in species diversity, abundance, distribution and habitat quality in the project’s effects assessment area (PEAA) due to direct effects of routine project activities or potential oil spills.

The pipeline environmental effects monitoring program will guide the collection of a set of background information that will be science-based, statistically defensible and built on open and transparent communication with Aboriginal groups and stakeholders.

The marine environmental effects monitoring program meets conditions 36 and 37, as it describes the current status of marine biota and their habitat as well as measuring any potential change in species diversity, abundance, distribution and habitat quality in the PEAA, confined channel assessment area (CCAA) and open water area (OWA) due to direct effects of routine project activities or potential oil spills.

The marine mammal protection plan is being developed in order to meet condition 50. Separate plans will also be formed to describe protection of marine mammals during the construction phase and during operations of the terminal. The purpose of the plans is to outline measures that Northern Gateway will implement in the PEAA, CCAA and OWA to manage and monitor project-related environmental effects on marine mammals associated with underwater noise, blasting and other marine mammal-vessel interactions.

The purpose of the construction marine mammal protection plan is to meet condition 51and will be completed at least six months prior to commencing in-water construction for the Kitimat Terminal. A separate plan to protect marine mammals during the operations phase of the terminal is also being developed.

The plan would outline measures that Northern Gateway will implement in the project development area (PDA) and the PEAA in order to manage and monitor construction related environmental effects on marine mammals associated with underwater noise, blasting and other potential marine mammal-vessel interactions. It will also implement a variety of industry best practices and mitigation measures to minimize impacts while taking into account seasonal marine mammal and fish diversity, abundance and activity.

The traditional land use investigation plan satisfies conditions 53 to 56 by setting out Northern Gateway’s methodology in applying Aboriginal traditional knowledge to the detailed routing and final design of the project. Northern Gateway will use this information that would be obtained through joint review panel hearings, formal Aboriginal traditional knowledge studies, ongoing discussions with potentially affected Aboriginal groups and from working with Aboriginal equity partners.

The construction environmental protection and management plan meets National Energy Board conditions 63 to 66 and provides guidance to Northern Gateway, so that the Project is constructed according to applicable company policies, procedures, commitments and regulatory requirements. It will reflect the results of all environmental assessment work and engagement conducted on the project and will describe the environmental  management approach and protection measures that will be implemented during construction of the pipelines and associated facilities.

It is estimated the project may affect almost 500 hectares of wetlands, so in order to meet conditions 67 to 70 Northern Gateway will assess and mitigate any adverse environmental effect of the project on the function of affected wetlands. The wetlands functional assessment plan will be completed at least six months prior to commencing construction following engagement with Aboriginal groups and stakeholders and will include goals, project wetland interactions, compensation ratios, implementation and monitoring.

The socio-economic effects monitoring plan meets condition 78 and will be used to monitor potentially adverse effects on people, services and infrastructure in Aboriginal and other communities in the project area. The plan will form part of a larger socio-economic management plan that would provide a process to ensure economic and social effects of Northern Gateway are properly addressed and actively managed.