Pollution limits already raised for Kitimat smelter

Skeena MLA Robin Austin says Rio Tinto-Alcan expansion will increase sulphur dioxide even before other industry gets going

LNG tankers

With a 50-per-cent increase in sulphur dioxide emissions already approved for an expanded aluminum smelter in Kitimat, a study of further emission impacts is urgently needed, Skeena MLA Robin Austin says.

Austin was responding to the B.C. government’s announcement Thursday that it is doing an air quality study as the province prepares for liquefied natural gas expansion. He said the first indication of the study came in July when he questioned Rich Coleman, the minister for natural gas development, about the impacts of his aggressive plan for LNG exports to Asia.

A key part of the $650,000 study is the level of sulphur dioxide from proposed LNG production, as well as gas-fired power plants and a proposed oil port. The gas, a byproduct of fossil fuel use, converts to sulphuric acid and can affect the environment in higher concentrations.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the studies will help guide the government in setting regulations for the companies.

“None of [the proposed projects] have their certificate yet, that’s later on in the process,” Polak said. “What is really important for us to do is to make sure we’re looking at not just at each individual project but understanding how they will fit into the puzzle with respect to the total emissions from the project when they’re all built out, potentially.”

The study is said to focus on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the facilities. The study will assess the impact of emissions, including their potential effects on water and soil as well as on vegetation and human health from direct exposure.

A request for proposals to conduct the study will be issued, and Polak said she expects the work on the study to conclude in March 2014.

Austin said LNG investors have indicated they will not make final decisions until the end of 2014 at the earliest, so there is time to complete the study.

“It’s part of the planning that needs to take place up here on a whole variety of things,” Austin said. “Nobody wants to see us end up like Fort McMurray, which got completely overrun with all kinds of social problems.”

Just Posted

U.S. consulate general to visit Northwest

Trip part of the region’s first-ever pop-up consul for American residents

Houston Flyers bring home bronze

The Houston Flyers peewees were off to Smithers last weekend and came… Continue reading

New Cottonwood Manor units nearly ready

Sixteen units replace ones condemned several years ago

Houston celebrates International Womens Day

International Women’s Day March 7 was celebrated by 102 registered guests who… Continue reading

Houston’s woman of the year

International Woman of the year event was held last Thursday in Houston.… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Most Read