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Woodfibre seeks simple amendment to its Environmental Certificate

The change would clarify the term 'construction' to allow for further site clean up
Signs of some of the clean up at Woodfibre. Left is in October, right is in Dec. 2018.

 Woodfibre LNG is seeking what is called a "simple amendment" to its Environmental Assessment Certificate to more broadly define the term "construction."

A public comment period is not required for such an amendment, according to the Environmental Assessment Office.

The company applied to the Environmental Assesment Office for the amendment on April 3.

"Woodfibre LNG has reviewed the mitigation measures from the application and the conditions... There are not any references to the removal of existing infrastructure from the pulp mill. Although several conditions could be seen as generally applicable, these measures are consistent with best environmental management practices and legislative compliance," the application states.

Basically, Woodfibre LNG contends that its original Environmental Assessment Certificate defines construction in a way that would mean some remediation work — not related to the actual building of the facility — could not go ahead.

The project received its provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate in  October 2015.

It received its federal certificate in the spring of 2016.

"Since acquiring the property in 2015, Woodfibre LNG has been working to remove the remnants of the previous pulp mill," reads the application, adding that the continued remediation work on the site is in accordance with the Squamish Nation's direction.

The planned work includes: remove and crush concrete slabs and recycle the rebar; demolish and dispose of the old First Aid building; remove a pedestrian bridge; stockpile crushed concrete for landfill capping and other remediation activities; sludge removal; cap the landfill.

No remediation work will be done below the high tide mark or within Mill or Woodfibre Creek.

The definition of "construction" as it stands would not allow for this remediation work and thus the definition needs to be amended, according to Woodfibre LNG's application.

The work would need to be done on the site with or without the liquefied natural gas facility going ahead, the application also states.

The application outlines some obstacles on the site that Woodfibre LNG has encountered so far in its clean up.

The old, existing pulp mill landfill on the property was originally going to be used for construction waste, but with further study, the company wants to close the landfill.

Though the leachate from the landfill is treated before it is released into Howe Sound, closing it will reduce the amount seeping out and reduce the risk of an accidental spill, the application reads.

Simply put, leachate, in this case, is water that passes through the debris and carries with it whatever contaminants were in the landfill.

Instead of using this landfill, the debris will be taken off site on barges already leaving the Woodfibre LNG property, the application states. 

A technical working group — made up of First Nations, federal, provincial and local government representatives — is currently reviewing Woodfibre’s EAO amendment request.

The Squamish Nation has already provided a letter of support to Woodfibre.

Once the review has concluded, the EAO will make a decision on whether or not to approve the amendment.

That decision is expected in the coming months, according to the EAO. Updates can be found on the project’s webpage

Woodfibre LNG declined to comment for this story, saying the company is still in conversation with the EAO regarding its application.

**Please note, this story has been corrected since it was first published. The original story stated debris would be taken to another onsite landfill. This is not the case. The application states that once the landfill is capped, future waste will be transported away by barge. 



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