Blog: Thumbs up for Coastal GasLink pipeline


Our last blog, with the headline ‘How pipelines go safely under rivers’ has been seen and read by more than 12,600 people on Facebook.

Not always correctly read, though: The first paragraph explicitly spoke of Coastal GasLink’s “natural-gas pipeline” — but a surprising number of readers took it to be an oil pipeline, and protested that it (and oil) should be abandoned.

For example, one said: “Mmm not good at all!! Can’t drink oil when earthquakes comes! Not wise at all!”

Some expressed fears that the pipeline would, at some point, be converted to carry oil.

For the record, such a conversion is banned by law, and by contract with First Nations.

And why would anyone plan to move oil to Kitimat, anyway, when there is a federal ban on oil tanker movement in northwestern BC waters including Kitimat and Douglas Channel? LNG carriers will be permitted, but not oil tankers.

There is thus neither need nor reason to move oil to Kitimat, while the Trans Mountain pipeline and its TMX expansion will carry oil, for domestic use and export, from Edmonton to tidewater at Burnaby.

And one comment on the blog pointed out: “Any change would require a full environmental review process, it’ll never happen.”

Our posting generated more than 235 comments on Facebook.

Of those who used Facebook’s clickable emoticon symbols, 72.8% gave the blog a thumbs-up sign, and 3.4% a love-heart. Some 17% signalled anger, 3.9% gave it a laugh, 1.5% signalled sadness and 1.5% gave it a “Wow!” symbol.

Many opposed natural gas, and oil, in general: “Fossil fuels were once the future, now they are a climate change nightmare.”

Some pointed to ruptures in oil pipelines, and to when, in 2018, an Enbridge gas pipeline cracked and caught fire near Prince George. (The federal Transportation Safety Board found that the operator had improperly delayed a scheduled inspection. No one was hurt but more than 100 people briefly evacuated their homes as a precaution.)

A few raised concerns about the Coastal GasLink pipe rupturing due to earthquakes or some other cause: “And when the earthquake comes?” and “Pipes can still burst, and then what?

The answer: What would happen in the event of a breach is that the affected section of the line would be closed off for repairs, and any leaking liquefied gas from it would then return to its gaseous state and dissipate.

Other comments on our blog pointed out that the crossing of the Morice River (Wedzin Kwa) with the Coastal GasLink pipe in a concrete tunnel 11 metres below the riverbed, is the kind of technology that has been used safely and successfully for a good 30 years.

“That isn’t new technology by any stretch.” And “These companies spend millions making sure the lines are of the highest quality. It’s in their best interest to do so.”

The advanced “micro-tunneling” technique planned by Coastal GasLink under the river is a proven method of using a remote-controlled tunnel-boring machine, and then hydraulic jacks to push concrete casing segments through the tunnel deep under the river bed. The pipeline is then safely pulled through the tunnel created by the concrete casing, and grouted in place.

There would be no impact on the river itself, or the water, or fish.

And the crossing project is monitored by First Nations people.

Coastal GasLink has several posts online that address the methodology and has safely and successfully tunnelled its line beneath other BC rivers.

Some blog readers just didn’t get the region’s geography: “What if you just went around the river instead?”

Some focussed on a central and complicated issue: First Nations rights and title: ““If” you were permitted to, which you are not.”

The issue of Wet’suwet’en Nation governance, and authority over a pipeline under Wet’suwet’en territory, remains to be resolved.

In The Vancouver Sun, a recent analysis said: “Settling Wet’suwet’en rights and title will take time and patience.” And it added: “Indigenous law experts and consultants say it could be a matter of years before agreements are reached.”

Some readers of our blog posted technical questions about the river crossing, and we have some answers;

  • Pipe length for the Morice River crossing is 888 metres in a straight line from entry to the micro-tunnel to the exit;
  • The diameter of the gas pipe is 48 inches (121.92 cm) with a wall thickness of 29.6 mm. The reinforced concrete jacking pipe is 2.12 m diameter.

Work now has resumed on the CGL project. Drilling for the Wedzin Kwa crossing can be expected in the spring, and will take around 79 days.

But the crossing requires, in all, some 3-4 months of prep work prior to tunnelling, and it will take another 3-4 months after tunnelling to pull the pipe through, grout the tunnel, and complete restoration of the drill-pad areas.

Coastal GasLink has a target of completing the entire 670-km pipeline next year. It will then supply natural gas to the LNG Canada plant near Kitimat. LNG Canada aims to ship its first cargo overseas in 2025. It now is awaiting delivery of massive pre-fabricated parts (modules) of the plant from Asia.

With overseas demand for LNG strong and growing, our Nations LNG Alliance continues to support the Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada projects, subject to protection of the environment and benefits to Indigenous peoples.

And we close with this Facebook comment from a First Nations man:

“I support pipe lines myself and I’m First Nations also, been working on pipe line for over 15 years this work we get keeps my family going and excellent career.
I love my job.”

(Posted here 12 January 2022)


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