Coastal GasLink ordered to stop work on pipeline over environmental violations

The stop work order was issued after an Oct. 5 inspection found the project wasn’t abiding by a compliance agreement supposed to avoid environmental violations.

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Coastal GasLink has been ordered to stop work on a section of its 670 kilometre natural gas pipeline by British Columbia’s environmental regulator for failing to meet the conditions of a compliance agreement aimed at correcting the project’s history of violations.

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The Environmental Assessment Office, on Friday, posted the order, issued to Coastal GasLink Oct. 14, which was based on an Oct. 4 inspection by EAO enforcement officers who found the company’s contractors were “not compliant with the requirements of the agreement and specific work execution plans,” according to the order.

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Coastal GasLink and the EAO arrived at the compliance agreement July 13 aimed at improving the company’s approach to preventing erosion and sediment control around sensitive waterways covering a 100 kilometre section of the pipeline route where ground had not yet been broken.

The now $11 billion Coastal GasLink pipeline is being built to link LNG Canada’s $18 billion LNG plant being built near Kitimat with gas fields in B.C.’s northeast.

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The EAO has issued dozens of warnings, 16 orders and two fines against Coastal GasLink and its contractors since work started on the project with many of the violations related to allowing erosion or sediment into sensitive waterways.

In the compliance agreement, the EAO observed that clearing ground for construction – referred to as grubbing and stripping – increased the risks for erosion and sediment flows and required contractors to appoint a qualified professional to develop sediment-control components in work execution plans.

Those plans were to spell out their contractors’ understanding of what streams in work areas might be at risk and apply measures to minimize erosion or sediment flows.

Coastal GasLink, July 14, issued a statement outlining its commitment to that compliance agreement, including providing erosion and sediment control training to more than 400 workers and contractors.

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“As we progress construction, the compliance agreement will provide a strong framework and greater clarity on the requirements necessary to maintain our compliance and allow our team to fulfill our commitment to protecting the environment,” the statement read.

However, the EAO’s Oct. 14 order states that Coastal GasLink “must cease all variations from an approved work execution plan that are not in accordance with the agreement,” and must “cease installation of measures that are not specified in a work execution plan.”

The latest order is separate from a Sept. 27 warning letter EAO issued to Coastal GasLink, which identified the project’s failure to conduct a habitat assessment to identify endangered or threatened plants or “ecological communities” in a work area and was at risk of a fine.

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The July inspection report that the warning was based on identified five instances where Coastal GasLink was not in compliance with its environmental certificate, including three related to failures around sediment and erosion control

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