November 27, 2006

Ambrose announces Deltaport, Deep Panuke EA decisions, names members for two joint panels

The Vancouver Port Authority's proposed Deltaport third berth expansion project (DP3) is unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has concluded. Accordingly, the Minister has referred the project back to the responsible federal authorities, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment Canada, for appropriate action.

The proposed project is an agreement between the Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) and TSI Terminal Systems (TSI), who intend to share its capital cost of approximately $300 million (Cdn). DP3 would be carried out at the existing Roberts Bank port facility in Delta, 35 km south of Vancouver, increasing capacity at the Deltaport container terminal by 50% by adding a third ship berth and 20 hectares of container storage facilities. TSI has operated container terminals in the Port of Vancouver for over 35 years.

The Minister's environmental assessment (EA) decision was based on the comprehensive study report, including conclusions and recommendations, submitted by the responsible authorities; public comments received throughout the EA process, together with the responses by DFO and Environment Canada to those comments; and the implementation of mitigation measures and a follow-up program. Ambrose has recommended that the two departments ensure that the mitigation measures described in the comprehensive study report are carried out and that they be responsible for implementing the follow-up program.

Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) President and CEO Captain Gordon Houston, welcomed the decision, noting that the VPA will carry out over 150 key commitments to protect the environment throughout various phases of project development. Some of these key commitments include an adaptive management strategy to ensure the effective monitoring and management of the Roberts Bank inter-causeway ecosystem, a habitat compensation plan to mitigate for project impacts, and a construction environmental management plan to address environmental issues during the project construction phase.

"We have worked hard to develop the project in a sustainable manner and are confident that project mitigation strategies effectively address local issues and concerns - specifically traffic, air quality, marine habitat and seabirds," Captain Houston stated.

The VPA will oversee the marine construction, habitat compensation, and long-term environmental monitoring components while TSI will undertake the yard construction and equipment acquisition. Construction of DP3 is scheduled to begin January 2007, with completion in July 2009.

In another EA decision, Environment Minister Ambrose has determined that a comprehensive study is the most appropriate type of EA for the proposed Deep Panuke offshore gas development project. Her decision was based on a report and recommendation made by the six responsible federal agencies: Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), the National Energy Board, DFO, Environment Canada, Industry Canada and Transport Canada. They will now continue the comprehensive study and submit their final report to the Minister.

The preliminary report describes the scope of the project and lists the factors to be considered in its EA, along with the scope of those factors. It summarizes the public concerns submitted to authorities, reviews the project's potential to cause adverse environmental effects, and evaluates the ability of the comprehensive study to address issues relating to the project.

The Deep Panuke offshore natural gas production project is being proposed by EnCana for development off the Nova Scotia coast, about 45 km west-southwest of Sable Island and some 250 km southeast of Halifax. The main project components include a mobile offshore production unit, subsea flow lines and wells and an export pipeline.

EnCana is seeking approvals under the National Energy Board Act and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act. The company will likely also require authorizations under the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Radiocommunication Act. The National Energy Board (NEB) and the CNSOPB are jointly leading the federal agencies in the review of this project. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will act as the federal EA co-ordinator to co-ordinate the participation of federal departments.

Finally, panel members have been appointed for joint EA panels reviewing projects in Alberta and Quebec. Ambrose and Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) chair Neil McCrank have selected Bob Connelly to head a three-member joint panel reviewing EnCana's proposed shallow gas infill development project in the Suffield National Wildlife Area in Alberta. Bill Ross has been named as the other federal member of the panel, with John Nichol, a permanent EUB Board member, appointed as the provincial representative.

Before retiring from the public service in 2005, Connelly worked for 27 years with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and its predecessor, the Federal Environmental Assessment and Review Office (FEARO), serving as acting president of the Agency for 17 months prior to his retirement. He has been involved with numerous EA panel reviews as panel chair or manager.

Nichol has worked for the EUB since 1970 and was appointed a Board member in 2002. A civil engineer by training with expertise in various facets of water resource management, he also brings years of experience in program administration, decision-making and conflict resolution to the panel.

Ross, a member of the University of Calgary's faculty of environmental design, is a specialist in environmental impact assessment, having taught EIA at the postgraduate level both at Calgary and outside Canada. He has participated in several EA panels and currently heads the Independent Envirometnal Monitoring Agency, which oversees environmental management at the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territoriers.

Minister Ambrose and Mr. McCrank have signed a joint panel agreement for the environmental review. The document sets out the terms and conditions as well as the process to be followed for conducting the joint panel review.

EnCana is proposing to install up to 1,275 new shallow gas wells over a three-year period within the boundary of the Canadian Forces Base Suffield National Wildlife Area in southeastern Alberta. The project is in addition to the existing natural gas development activities within the area and includes the physical works and the activities associated with the preparation, construction, operation, decommissioning and abandonment of the shallow gas wells, pipelines, and supporting infrastructure.

Members of a joint review panel for the EA of the Rabaska project (construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and related infrastructure) have been appointed by Ambrose and William Cosgrove, president of Quebec's Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE). Qussai Samak will head the panel, whose other members will include Jean Paré and Jean-Philippe Waaub. The appointments were approved by the federal minister and her Quebec counterpart, Claude Béchard, Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, pursuant to the Canada-Québec Agreement on Environmental Assessment Co-operation

Qussai Samak has been a full-time member of the BAPE since May 2005 and is a former member of the National Round Table on the Economy and the Environment (NRTEE). He has held teaching positions at McGill University and the University of Montreal. Dr Samak also served as a technical adviser for the BAPE Panel responsible for investigating hazardous waste sites in Quebec and as a commissioner for the BAPE Inquiry Board on residual materials management in Quebec.

Jean Paré is a town planner with a law degree from the University of Montreal. He has worked as a consultant in strategic planning, in regional development and in town planning. As commissioner for the Montreal Public Consultation Office since 2002, Paré has headed 20 consultations. As a part-time member of BAPE between 1991 and 2003, he was also involve in eight public hearings and inquiry boards.

Jean-Philippe Waaub is a full professor in the geography department at the University of Quebec in Montreal. A specialist in environmental assessment and energy modeling, he is a member of the Group of Interdisciplinary Studies in Geography and Regional Environment (GEIGER) and of the Group of Studies and Research for Decision-making Assistance (GERAD).

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