$650,000 study to look into Kitimat’s airshed

The Province of B.C. is kicking in $650,000 for a scientific study of the Kitimat region's air shed in light of LNG developments.

The Province of B.C. is kicking in $650,000 for a scientific study for the Kitimat region, to figure out how the area’s air shed will handle liquefied natural gas developments which are proposed for the area.

The funding, provided by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural Gas Development, was announced on October 3.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the studies will help guide the government in setting regulations for the companies.

“What is really important for us to do is to make sure we’re looking at not just at each individual project but understanding how they will fit into the puzzle with respect to the total emissions from the project when they’re all built out, potentially,” she said.

She continued, “Likely what will happen is it will guide the type of regulations we would put in place for the projects as they’re built. So they [companies] would understand then the technical requirements needed for their facilities, and we use that information to guide us as to what requirements we give them.”

Polak was in Kitimat on October 2 for a tour of the Douglas Channel and to meet with local politicians.

The Kitimat Airshed Impact Assessment Project will also include the existing Rio Tinto Alcan smelter and the proposed oil expert facility, and gas turbine powered electricity generation facilities, in addition to three proposed LNG export operations.

The study is said to focus on sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from the facilities. The study will assess the impact of emissions, including their potential effects on water and soil as well as on vegetation and human health from direct exposure.

A request for proposals to conduct the study will be issued, and Polak said that she expects the work on the study to conclude in March 2014.

The ministry has also hired contractors who will be gathering samples as early as next week as well, which will be provided to the eventual successful bidder.

In a news release, Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman said that the plan is part of the steps to keep B.C. as an environmental leader.

“This study will ensure our airshed plan for Kitimat is comprehensive, so the quality of life in the area is upheld while jobs and economic prospects increase as a result of LNG and industrial development.”

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Environment Canada’s description of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide:

Sulphur dioxide:

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas that smells like burnt matches. It can be chemically transformed into acidic pollutants such as sulpfuric acid and sulpfates (sulphates are a major component of fine particles). SO2 is generally a byproduct of industrial processes and burning of fossil fuels. Ore smelting, coal-fired power generators and natural gas processing are the main contributors. Sulphur dioxide is also the main cause of acid rain, which can damage crops, forests and whole ecosystems.

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide: Nitrogen dioxide originates from both anthropogenic and natural sources. The main anthropogenic sources are from combustion in transportation, industry and the electric power generation sectors, whereas emissions from natural sources are mainly from forest fires, lightening and soil microbial activity. Nitrogen oxides have been identified as one of the principal precursors to ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.

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