VICTORIA – The Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has issued two administrative penalties totalling $346,000 to Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. (CGL) on Sept. 19, 2023, for non-compliance with requirements of its environmental assessment certificate.
One penalty of $340,000 concerned deficiencies with erosion and sediment control measures identified by compliance and enforcement officers during four multi-day inspections along the pipeline construction route in April and May 2022. An additional penalty of $6,000 was issued for providing false and misleading information in October 2022 related to maintenance inspection records.
These latest financial penalties reflect the EAO’s continued escalation of enforcement due to repeated non-compliance with EAO requirements. The new fines follow three previous penalties of $213,600 (January 2023), $170,100 (May 2022) and $72,500 (February 2022) for failing to adequately control erosion and sediment.
The EAO takes matters of compliance with the conditions of all environmental assessment certificates very seriously and has escalated enforcement action to address continued concerns with erosion and sediment control for the project. While urgent issues identified during inspections that pose an immediate risk are addressed right away through warnings or stop-work orders, they may also be subject to subsequent financial penalties.
As a result of continued concerns, the EAO has prioritized the CGL project for compliance monitoring, with nearly 100 inspections by air and ground since the project started in 2019. These inspections have led to the EAO issuing 59 warnings, 30 orders – including 13 stop-work orders – and more than $800,000 in fines.
In July 2022, CGL entered into a compliance agreement with the Province that required more proactive measures for the remaining 100 kilometres of pipeline construction where ground had yet to be broken.
When a project receives an environmental assessment certificate, the certificate contains legally binding requirements that must be followed for the life of the project. These requirements are intended to prevent negative environmental, social, cultural, health or economic impacts of a project or impacts to First Nations. The 2014 environmental assessment certificate for the project requires CGL to develop and follow an environmental management plan, including measures to protect sensitive wetlands and waterways from sediment caused by erosion that can negatively impact water quality and fish habitat.
As a neutral regulator, the EAO carries out ongoing compliance oversight for all certified projects, with a team of compliance and enforcement officers who conduct both routine and spot inspections and take enforcement action as necessary. This helps ensure that projects are built, operated and decommissioned in compliance with all requirements.
The EAO continues to actively monitor construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project. Recent inspections show CGL has been improving its management of erosion and sediment control under EAO oversight, though the wet weather in spring 2023 resulted in significant issues that led to multiple stop-work orders and orders to remedy. Additional fines are being considered associated with these orders.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline will connect natural gas facilities west of Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export facility near Kitimat, which is also under construction.