The Vopak Pacific Canada Project Obtains a Provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate


A British Columbia Environmental Assessment Certificate has been issued to Vopak Development Corporation for the proposed Vopak Pacific Canada Project, which is on federal lands under federal jurisdiction.

The provincial environmental assessment certificate contains the conditions required for matters under provincial jurisdiction, if the federal government determines that the project can proceed.

The provincial certificate with conditions was issued following a decision by George Heyman, British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy , Mining and Low Carbon Innovation of British Columbia.

The Vopak Project is a proposed new bulk storage facility for liquefied petroleum gas (e.g. propane, ethane, butane), methanol, light diesel and/or gasoline on Ridley Island in the territories of Gitga’at, Gitxaała, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams Nations.

The project would include offloading platforms for bulk liquid gas transported to the facility on the existing rail loop on Ridley Island and berths on a new offshore jetty for the export of liquid gas. Liquefied gas products would be transported to the facility from across Western Canada via existing Canadian National rail lines.

In their decision, the ministers took into account the assessment report of the Environmental Assessment Office and the recommendation of the Director General of Evaluation to issue a certificate. They also considered First Nations consultations and reviews, public engagement feedback, and submissions from non-governmental organizations. In addition, federal approvals still required for the project to proceed and areas of federal and provincial jurisdiction were taken into consideration.

The project must meet specific design conditions and parameters under the environmental assessment certificate, if it proceeds. Ministers have determined that with the requirements of the certificate, significant adverse effects are unlikely to occur with respect to areas of provincial jurisdiction.

Legally binding terms include:

  • develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • work with the local community and First Nations to address potential negative effects on community services, infrastructure and well-being; and
  • participate in initiatives at the request of the province to manage the potential cumulative effects of this project and other projects in the region.

Many of the concerns identified by First Nations and the public during consultation and engagement fall under federal jurisdiction, such as rail and marine transportation. Ministers have written to federal regulators recommending that concerns about the impacts of potential spills and increased rail and marine traffic be addressed through the parallel federal review process currently underway or through other measures. governmental.

A series of mitigation measures have been proposed by federal regulators to address the impacts of the Project. These cover air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, visual quality and ambient light, marine and terrestrial resources, soils and terrain, freshwater fish and their habitat, marine use and navigation, heritage and archaeology, and human health.

The EAO considered the potential impacts of the Project on Aboriginal rights and title and consulted with the Gitga’at, Gitxaała, Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams during the environmental assessment.

The EAO also engaged the public throughout the process, with three separate public comment periods, and asked Vopak to report on how it addressed public concerns.

Following feedback from the Technical Working Group, the public and First Nations, Vopak made substantial changes to the Project design during the environmental assessment. This includes excluding dredging from the project design and modifying vessel mooring to minimize seabed disturbance to reduce potential harm to local fish and marine life.

Vopak estimates that direct expenditures during construction would total $885 million over two years, with approximately 250 full-time equivalent jobs in British Columbia, including 70 on-site premises. Vopak estimates direct expenditures during operations at approximately $29 million per year in British Columbia and the creation of approximately 39 direct jobs (30 local) per year in British Columbia.

The provincial environmental assessment of the project began in 2018 and was conducted under the Environmental Assessment Act of 2002.

The factors the ministers considered in their decision on the Vopak Pacific Canada project can be found here: https://www.projects.eao.gov.bc.ca/projects-list (search: “Vopak”).

Through BC’s environmental assessment process, First Nations, government agencies, local governments and the public have a say in decisions about major projects. Environmental assessments consider comments on the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects of a proposed project.

For more information on the environmental assessment process, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/eao

A backgrounder follows.

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