The BC Oil and Gas Commission has confirmed it is investigating a report that Coastal GasLink cleared trees in an ecologically sensitive area outside the permitted timeline allowed.
Commission communications manager Lannea Parfitt said Coastal GasLink (CGL) had voluntarily informed the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) about the tree clearing which was discovered by Coastal GasLink on February 26 during pipeline preparation work.
“(The Commission) has received and is reviewing the self-disclosure letter provided by CGL. According to the information provided, the clearing took place approximately 12 km east of Kitimat,” said Parfitt, declining to provide further information until the letter had been reviewed.
The permitted tree clearing happened in an ungulate (moose) winter range within a restricted activity period and was discovered by the company during a routine examination of permit conditions.
TransCanada senior communications advisor Suzanne Wilton said the clearing occurred in Section 8 adjacent to the right-of-way (ROW).
“Permitted logging of the right-of-way was underway. To store the timber from the clearing of the ROW, Coastal GasLink also cleared a 1.83 ha plot adjacent to the ROW. The clearing of that plot was subject to a timing restriction – November 1 to May 1,” said Wilton.
“Wooded area provides for moose habitat and moose are more vulnerable to habitat disturbance in the winter. Clearing is permitted but unless specific permission is obtained, not between November and May.”
Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer said when the clearing was discovered, work was immediately stopped, the Oil and Gas Commission notified and a full review launched into how the clearing happened outside the permittable period.
“We take compliance very seriously and we are working with the Environmental Assessment Office to return to compliance. We continue to strive to not only meet but exceed regulatory requirements,” said Pfeiffer.