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Coastal GasLink fined more than $340K after 'repeated non-compliance'

The 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline is being built as part of a $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia. (CTV News) The 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline is being built as part of a $40 billion liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia. (CTV News)

Citing "repeated non-compliance," the B.C. government's Environmental Assessment Office has fined the owners of the Coastal GasLink pipeline more than $340,000.

The latest fines were issued earlier this week, the office said in a statement Thursday. The bulk of the $346,000 total comes from a penalty for "deficiencies with erosion and sediment control measures" identified by inspectors in April and May 2022.

Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. was fined $340,000 for that offence.

The company was also fined $6,000 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 office's statement reads.

"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 said it has prioritized the Coastal GasLink project for compliance monitoring, conducting nearly 100 inspections by air and ground since work started in 2019.

The office has issued 59 warnings and 30 orders – including 13 stop-work orders – along with more than $800,000 in fines.

Coastal GasLink and the province entered a "compliance agreement" in July 2022, which the EAO said required "more proactive measures" for the remaining 100 kilometres of pipeline where ground had not yet been broken at that time.

In its own statement responding to the EAO's latest penalties, Coastal GasLink highlighted the fact that the large penalty stemmed from issues that occurred before the compliance agreement was signed.

"The (erosion and sediment control) concerns were identified during EAO inspections in April and May 2022 and we took immediate and decisive action to address them," the company said. "Shortly after these inspections and associated non-compliances, we entered into the compliance agreement with B.C.’s minister of environment and climate change strategy."

The company described the smaller penalty as the byproduct of "an unintentional and regrettable error" that stemmed from "an administrative contractor record discrepancy."

"Coastal GasLink respects the role our regulators have in upholding the high regulatory standards we are committed to meeting," the company said. "Those high standards matter to Indigenous and local communities, to the people of British Columbia, and they matter to us."

For its part, the EAO noted that the company's management of erosion and sediment control has been improving, but wet weather this spring "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 EAO said.

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will carry natural gas from facilities west of Dawson Creek to the LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export terminal currently under construction near Kitimat.

Coastal GasLink said its pipeline is 94 per cent complete and "on track for mechanical completion at the end of this year."

The project has been deeply controversial, with protests by supporters of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation – who oppose the project – prompting nationwide solidarity blockades in February 2020.

Tensions have remained high since then, with the company complaining of a pattern of violence directed against its workers, including a February 2022 attack on a worksite that caused millions of dollars in damage

Meanwhile, protesters and the hereditary chiefs have denied any connection to the violence and denounced the February 2022 attack, while also complaining that they have been unfairly targeted by the RCMP and subjected to "bogus" arrests Top Stories

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