DoK wants to have more say in SO2 monitoring

“The EEM is not static and was always designed for periodic review”

The District of Kitimat council has signalled its intent to participate in the 2019 review of the Rio Tinto’s sulphur dioxide monitoring plan.

The Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan (EEMP) was a condition of the approval by the provincial government in April 2013, for the increase in Rio Tinto’s allowable emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) to 42 metric tons per day.

The previous limit of a maximum daily discharge of 27 metric tons of SO2 was set in 1999 and needed to be increased to allow for the expansion of Rio Tinto’s BC Works through the Kitimat Modernization Project (KMP), as per an application submitted by Rio Tinto Alcan in 2007.

The EEMP was submitted to the Ministry of Environment’s northern region director and was approved nearly 18 months after the permit amendment was granted.

In a letter approving the EEMP issued in the fall of 2014 the ministry set out key performance indicators that stipulated thresholds in relation to the impact on vegetation, soil and water. No thresholds were set out in relation to human health though.

“The health section of the EEM program and key performance indicators (KPI) will be updated when provincially applied SO2 ambient air quality guidelines come into effect,” reads the EEMP document available on Rio Tinto’s website.

The review is an opportunity for potential changes to be made to the terms of the EEMP, based on input received from parties involved in the review.

The motion for the DoK to participate in the review was submitted by councillor Rob Goffinet at last week’s council meeting.

“[I move that] the District of Kitimat, in the interest of maintaining and improving the highest possible standards of air quality in Kitimat air shed, commits to work with BC Ministry of Environment, Rio Tinto Alcan, Haisla First Nation, and other interested community groups as an active and involved participant in the Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) program, including 2019’s Comprehensive EEM Program Review,” read Goffinet’s motion.

Speaking to the motion, Goffinet said the DoK’s participation in the review was not only important for the future of aluminium, but also to the development of the LNG industry in Kitimat.

“With this motion we would be free to take part in as an intense way as we want in preparation for our concerns and needs being addressed when this EEM program is comprehensively reviewed in 2019,” said Goffinet.

He said in the last year of the EEM current program that started in 2014, the district needed to be “extra vigilant, be an integral part and put our concerns and needs in front of the program.”

“It is designed in the next year to evaluate the concerns of the district and the community, as to [whether] this program delivered the highest quality air in the Kitimat airshed,” said Goffinet.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff, supporting the motion, said the review would be a good forum on which to raise concerns about the airshed and the environment and “what appropriate action should be, including possible scrubber installation”.

“The EEM is not static and was always designed for periodic review, which is exactly what is coming up in 2019.

The forum ensures that the science and all conflicting points of view are appropriately considered.”

He said members of the community had expressed concern over SO2 and believed that the DoK should be an active and involved participant in a comprehensive review.

Mayor Phil Germuth said if the intent of the motion was to change the EEM going forward, he would support the motion.

He questioned the wording of the motion, with particular reference to the phrase “in the interest of maintaining and improving the highest possible standards of air quality”.

“Maintaining means we are already there, that we are OK with where we are, when clearly the vast majority of this community would like to see it improve,” said Germuth.

He added that if the district wanted to look at changing the scope of the EEM program to be able to look at mitigating the effects of high levels of SO2, he would support the motion. A lengthy debate around the wording led to two amendments to the motion, the first being the changing of the words “maintaining and improving” to “attaining and maintaining”.

Germuth suggested a second amendment to the motion to have a staff member and budget assigned to the review.

Both amendments were approved and the motion was passed unanimously by council.

Just Posted

Mobile complaint team coming to B.C.’s northwest

Ombudsperson’s office wants to hear from wronged residents

Bears hyper-focused on feeding

Public urged to remove attractants as bears get ready for hibernation

Kool-Aid Man bails on Terrace and Kitimat mayoral race

Says he has accomplished goal of raising electoral awareness

Cannery Road Race returns with a bang

Approximately 150 people competed in 10 events after one year hiatus

55+ Games athletes compete for gold

70 athletes from Zone 10 are competing

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read