British Columbia

Coastal GasLink fined a second time this year for repeated environmental violations

The company behind a contentious natural gas pipeline project in northern B.C. has been fined a second time for non-compliance with environmental orders, according to the provincial government.

Pipeline company ordered to pay $170,100 for problems with erosion and sediment control

An environment official inspects sediment in water downstream from a Coastal GasLink pipeline crossing, in this photo from an inspection report from the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. (B.C. Environmental Assessment Office)

The company behind a contentious natural gas pipeline project in northern B.C. has been fined a second time for non-compliance with environmental orders, according to the provincial government.

Coastal GasLink's latest administrative penalty of $170,100 is for what the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy describes as "repeated" problems with erosion and sediment control on its construction project, according to a statement from the ministry on Monday.

The ministry says the fine comes after the company failed to comply with conditions and orders outlined in its environmental assessment certificate, which stipulates that Coastal GasLink must have a plan to protect sensitive waterways from sediments that can damage fish habitat and water quality.

According to the province, there have been 40 inspections along the pipeline construction route since work began in 2019, and inspectors have issued 37 warnings, 16 orders and two administrative penalties.

The first penalty was handed down just three months ago, in February, when Coastal GasLink was ordered to pay $72,500 for issues with compliance.

According to Coastal GasLink, its 670-kilometre pipeline route crosses about 625 streams, creeks, rivers and lakes, including vital fish habitat.

Sediment has the potential to reduce the biological productivity of aquatic systems and suffocate fish eggs.

The pipeline construction project has been the subject of sustained and heated opposition from hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation and their supporters, who say Coastal GasLink does not have consent to cross their traditional territory.

The $6.6-billion pipeline project is designed to carry natural gas obtained by fracking in northeastern B.C. to a $40-billion LNG terminal on the province's north coast for export to Asia. The Trudeau government has called it the largest private-sector investment in Canadian history. 

Coastal GasLink has signed deals with 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route, including from Wet'suwet'en territory, but has not won the approval of the majority of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.

With files from Betsy Trumpener

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