Woodfibre LNG has hit the pause button on the environmental review of its proposed $1.6-billion liquefied natural gas plant near Squamish.
The 180-day review had been slated to end July 13 but the temporary suspension granted June 30 gives the proponents more time to consult the Squamish Nation.
The aboriginal group, which has been conducting its own environmental assessment, had just issued five conditions it said must all be met for it to consider approving the project.
Topping the list of first nation concerns is Woodfibre’s plan to use a seawater cooling system that could suck in and kill small fish, and would discharge warmer chlorinated water to Howe Sound. The Squamish want more information on the potential use of alternative systems.
They also want guaranteed access to their lands, protection of a wildlife management area and insurance or a bond to compensate against any mishap – all enforced through a legally binding environmental certificate.
Squamish Nation leaders will vote to accept or reject the Woodfibre LNG proposal at the end of July.
Woodfibre vice-president Byng Giraud pledged to work with the Squamish while the provincially led environmental assessment is on hold.
“Our focus now is to take the time to review them and work with Squamish Nation to understand their conditions,” he said, adding the conditions, as expected, reflect the Squamish commitment to protect land, water and heritage.
The plant would be on the site of an old pulp mill that Woodfibre has already begun remediating.
The project is not as massive as LNG proposals on B.C.’s north coast, but it is thought to have a better chance of quickly getting approved and built, making it a possible frontrunner in the competitive LNG field.
If it gets the green light, FortisBC would twin an existing pipeline from Coquitlam to deliver natural gas. Forty tankers a year would load there and carry LNG to Asia.
The company behind the project is indirectly owned by Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto.
Pipeline corridor route.