Kitimat resident raises concern with Clio Bay proposal

A resident is not impressed with a proposed plan to dump marine clay in Clio Bay from the Kitimat LNG site.

A proposed plan by the Kitimat LNG project to dump marine clay from the project site into nearby Clio Bay has stirred the ire of at least one local, and the concern of Kitimat Council.

Rick Flegel, longtime resident and boater on the Douglas Channel, asked for council’s support to stop the proposed dumping plan.

The plan is called the Clio Bay Restoration Project, and according to Chevron (a proponent behind Kitimat LNG, as well as Apache) it will cover the numerous submerged logs in the bay, and will restore it to natural health.

But not everyone agrees Clio Bay needs restoration.

“I just can’t believe that somebody would just go and dump mud into the bay,” said Flegel, adding, I think of Clio Bay as an aquarium. It’s there, it’s got habitat amongst the branches and what have you, and that’s all going to be covered.”

Flegel, who has lived in Kitimat since the 1950s, said he fishes, crabs, and takes family to Clio Bay, and notes it’s a safe haven during high winds on the water.

The Clio Bay project would likely require the bay to be closed to the public at certain times, the company told the Sentinel.

Councillor Phil Germuth also provided a verbal report at the same meeting, expressing his concern regarding the project.

“In fall of 2011, Kitimat LNG put out a community update letter which stated that Kitimat LNG is applying for a permit from Environment Canada to dispose of organic sediments at sea, two kilomtetres offshore from Bish Cove, in an area not traditionally used for fishing and away from most local boat activity,” he said. But with the site of dumping now being Clio Bay, he feels there will be a lot of impact from the proposal.

As for the ecological claims, Germuth countered the claims from Chevron that submerged logs in the bay suck out oxygen and damage the aquatic environment.

Germuth referred to a study by marine biologists from a few years ago who were looking at the Douglas Channel and used high powered cameras to see underwater.

What they found was a lot of life.

“In effect those logs have actually created a reef, where, like any other reef, an ecosystem was being sustained,” he said.

Germuth closed with a letter he received from a Haisla member and boater, quoting a passage that says, “There is a very healthy ecosystem in Clio Bay. It is very unique.”

Right now, Council has directed a meeting be set up with various groups, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ministry of Environment, and the Haisla First Nation.