Environmental pipeline effects summed up for comment

Published on Thu, Oct 2, 2003
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Environmental pipeline effects summed up for comment

The public is invited to review and comment on a document that provides additional information about the possible environmental effects from a proposed natural-gas pipeline that would run through parts of Washington, British Columbia and the Georgia Strait.

The Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) has published a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for an 85-mile natural-gas pipeline proposed by Williams Gas Pipeline Company and B.C. Hydro. The so-called �Georgia Strait Crossing� (GSX) pipeline would connect two existing pipelines in Canada that provide fuel for B.C. energy customers.

The GSX pipeline would be routed through Whatcom and San Juan counties to connect the Terasen (formerly �Centra�) pipeline on Vancouver Island, B.C., and the Westcoast Energy pipeline at the U.S. border in Sumas.

The pipeline initially was slated to serve a proposed power plant in Duncan, B.C. Although construction of that plant was recently denied by a B.C. utilities board, the GSX gas pipeline could still provide fuel for an existing electrical plant in Campbell River, B.C.

The U.S. mainland portion of the proposed pipeline would travel about 33 miles from Sumas to facilities at Cherry Point, west of Ferndale. The pipeline�s land route in Whatcom County would pass near the cities of Lynden, Ferndale and Birch Bay, roughly parallel to existing pipelines.

From Cherry Point, the pipeline would continue under the Strait of Georgia about 33 miles roughly southwest, partially buried in marine sediments for the first five miles and then positioned on the ocean floor for the remaining 28 miles. It would pass near the northern ends of Waldron and Stuart islands in Washington and the south sides of Saturna, Pender and Moresby islands in British Columbia. On Vancouver Island near Hatch Point, the pipeline would extend an additional 10 miles overland to connect to the Terasen pipeline. The pipeline proposal received conditional approval in July 2002 by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), prompting review by state and local agencies. A similar process is under way in Canada.

Earlier this year, DOE required the pipeline company to pay for additional environmental analyses for information not provided in FERC�s EIS and because the company proposed significant route and design changes after FERC issued the EIS.

Public workshops and hearings are being held on the draft SEIS on October 14 on San Juan Island and October 15 in Bellingham.

� October 14, Friday Harbor Senior Center, 589 Nash Street (five blocks from ferry landing); workshop at 4 to 5:15 p.m.; formal hearing at 5:30 p.m.

� October 15, Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, workshop, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.; formal hearing at 7 p.m.

The draft SEIS for the proposed pipeline can viewed on-line at www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/gsx. It also is available at DOE offices in Bellingham and Bellevue and libraries in Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden and the city libraries of Ocean Park and White Rock, B.C. Officials at FERC report that its initial EIS for the GSX proposal is posted online now.

Written comments should be post-marked, faxed or e-mailed by October 25 to Sheila Hosner, Department of Ecology, 3190 160th Avenue S.E., Bellevue, Washington, 98008-5452; FAX, 425-649-7098; or e-mail, shos461@ecy.wa.gov. Oral testimony during the October hearings also will be included in the formal public record.

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