Restoration project to put marine clay from Kitimat LNG site to Clio Bay

Marine clay taken from the Kitimat LNG site is expected to be dumped at Clio Bay as part of a restoration project.

Following from discussion around town, councillor Phil Germuth has moved to have the Department of Fisheries and Oceans invited to council, to speak about the rumours of Clio Bay possibly being closed off due to it being used as a clay dumping ground.

“Clio Bay has always been of significant value to local boaters for both recreational and safety reasons,” said Germuth. “As important as Clio Bay is for its recreational use, perhaps it’s most valuable asset is its safety aspect. In times of high winds, Clio Bay has always been used as a safety refuge for boaters to duck in out of the weather and wait out before returning to port.”

He said with Kitimat having lost two marinas, he wants to ensure Clio Bay isn’t another benefit lost to locals and tourists.

The motion, which passed unanimously, included amendments to invite representatives from Chevron and Apache, which was brought forward by Mario Feldhoff, as he believed they were the proponents behind these concerns.

The Sentinel was has since been told by Chevron spokesperson Gillian Riddell that the company will be undertaking a project called the Clio Bay Restoration Project.

“For the past several months, Chevron has been working with the support of the Haisla First Nation and the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) on the Clio Bay Restoration Project,” she explained over e-mail. “[The] project work will be getting underway in January 2014.”

The project, she said, involves taking marine clay from the Kitimat LNG site at Bish Cove to Clio Bay, “where it will be deposited at pre-determined underwater locations in order to cover or ‘cap off’ accumulations of woody debris on the ocean bottom.”

That debris, she explained, consists of thousands of partially decomposed logs and bark chips from past logging operations, which cover about 40 per cent of the bottom of the bay.

“As a result, the ongoing decomposition of the logging debris has consumed much of the oxygen from the bay, and severely impacted its ecosystem, including fish and other marine life.”

The marine clay taken from the Kitimat LNG site is, she said, identical to the clay already at the bottom of Clio Bay.

The Restoration Project is expected to last about 16 months, and will involve the clay loaded onto barges at Bish Cove by a conveyor system.

The clay will be deposited at DFO-approved sites.

As for public access, Riddell said that Chevron’s first priority is safety, and said there may be periods where access to the bay will need to be restricted.

“We are in the process of developing a detailed execution plan for the project which will outline public access to Clio Bay while the project is underway.”

The company will hold community open houses in the Fall which will share more information about the project as well.