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Exemption from environmental review denied for Plateau pipeline expansion

$210 million project located in the Pink Mountain and Taylor area
A 160-kilometre pipeline proposed for the Pink Mountain/Blair Creek area will have to go through an environmental assessment, B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office rules. Handout Photo

A company seeking to build a pipeline to carry condensate and natural gas liquids through the Pink Mountain area, to a processing terminal in Taylor will have to undergo an environmental review, B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office (BC EAO) says.

The proponent, Plateau Pipe Line Ltd. - a subsidiary of Pembina Pipeline Corp. - had previously applied to the province for an exemption from assessment in March, claiming the project would not have significant adverse environmental, economic, social, heritage or health effects.

Project Assessment Manager Ricardo Toledo came to his decision on the project Aug. 31, requiring Plateau to obtain an environmental assessment certificate prior to any construction.

The pipeline is part of Plateau’s Northeast B.C. Expansion project. It consists of a 160-kilometre pipeline from the Highway 97/Blair Creek area north of Wonowon to the Taylor terminal.

The company noted the need for a pipeline in the area to reduce the trucking of gas to the terminal in a Spring/Summer 2015 project update brochure.

Up to 100 trucks per day are currently required to transport gas, the company says.

In April, the Peace River Regional District suggested in a letter to the B.C. EAO that the project should require an environmental assessment, citing a lack of information in the project description.

The pipeline is, at some points, only 300 metres away from residential neighbourhoods.

“The project description does not contain sufficient information on the pipeline route along private property or the results of consultation with owners and occupiers of land along the route,” a report tabled at an April 23 PRRD board meeting states.

“The pipeline is going through heavily populated areas,” Area C Director Brad Sperling said at the meeting. “I think it has to go through the process.”

About 46 per cent of the pipeline’s right-of-way is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

About 400 workers will be employed during the 12-month construction period. After construction is complete, about six people will be employed as permanent staff throughout the pipeline’s 25-year lifespan.

Projected costs of the project run as high as $210 million, according to Pembina’s November 2014 announcement of the pipeline.

Construction crews working on the project will be housed primarily in existing camps in the Pink Mountain area, with travel and “interactions between camp-based workers and nearby communities expected to be minimal,” the project description states.

The 12.7-inch pipeline will require a 21-metre right-of-way along with six new "risers" and pump stations. Each new riser and pump station site would be about 4.8 acres in size.

Calls to Pembina for comment were not returned by deadline.

After deadline, Jason Fydirchuk, a communications advisor for Pembina Pipeline Corp. told Alaska Highway News in an email that the company voluntarily withdrew its application to proceed without an environmental assessment on August 26. 

“We made this request to ensure that all First Nations and Public concerns are identified and fulsomely addressed,” Fydirchuk wrote. “This will ensure that the project can move forward successfully.”

The project schedule for the NEBC Expansion remains unchanged, Fydirchuk added, with an in service date of late 2017.