More than 50 people gathered at the Anglican Hall in Old Hazelton for two events geared toward educating the public about TransCanada’s proposed 750-kilometre Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project, which would begin near Hudson’s Hope and terminate on Lelu Island, near Port Edward, B.C.
One event was an official TransCanada open house and the other was a locally organized information session on the bank of the Skeena River spearheaded by the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
Tony Palmer, president of TransCanada’s PRGT project, was available, along with nearly a dozen representatives, at the Hazelton open house to speak directly with locals.
Hazelton-area resident, Raymond Jones, wondered why the company TransCanada is building the pipeline for wasn’t mentioned in any material available at the open-house.
Petroliam Nacional (Petronas), a Malaysian-state-owned corporation, is now the owner of Progress Energy, after the Canadian government approved a $6-billion sale to the Malaysian company in Dec. 2012.
“Petronas is the ultimate customer for this project,” Palmer said.
“Our official customer is Progress Energy Canada, but they are now owned by Petronas.”
Presently, TransCanada is considering two routes for the PRGT project, each would travel more than 100-kilometres along Gitxsan territory.
The northern route, which would take the proposed pipeline just north of Takla Lake before cutting across the Skeena, Kispiox and Nass Rivers appears to be the only viable route, as the Wet’suwet’en chiefs issued a unanimous no pipeline declaration, effectively ending any possibility of a southern route.
However, TransCanada is not going to close the door on southern routes for two years, Palmer said.
“We’re going to continue talks with potential shareholders because we’re in the early development stages at this point,” Palmer added.
TransCanada is speaking directly with each Gitxsan chief, whose territory resides along both the initial and alternate routes, Palmer said.
Regional district’s stand to make more than $31,000 per kilometre of TransCanada pipeline laid, as revealed at the open-house, which would equate to more than $6 million annually for the Regional district of Kitimat-Stikine.
While Palmer and other TransCanada representatives were informing Hazeltonians, there was an “Open-Air house” led by the SWCC metres away on the bank of the Skeena River.
Graham Poole, a local advocate of keeping northwestern B.C. pipeline-free, noticed two main points of contention missing from TransCanada’s information.
“They’ve split the project up so the environmental assessments are project specific,” Poole said.
The TransCanada PRGT project will not account for the total impact taking place at the beginning, namely hydro-fracturing, or end of the project, namely energy use, Poole added.
“There’s the destabilization of the land-mass and aquifer contamination at the beginning and the amount of gas that is going to be necessary to burn to produce a shippable product at the end.
Poole has found plans for three gas conversion plants, including a PRGT related site.
“By adding one of those plants B.C. would double its consumption of energy needed within our border.”
Poole would like to see a cumulative environmental assessment for all pipeline projects, he said.
TransCanada plans to file for environmental assessment March 2014 and pending that decision and having all stakeholder negotiations completed and approved want to begin construction on the PRGT pipeline in 2015 with a completion date of 2018.