In an effort to address community concerns, Woodfibre LNG has now become an associate member of the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators Ltd. (SIGTTO).
SIGTTO is an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the safe operation of gas tankers and terminals.
“We have heard from the community that membership in SIGTTO is an important priority, a view that we have shared from day one,” said Byng Giraud, vice president of corporate affairs at Woodfibre LNG.
“Being invited and accepted as an associate member of SIGTTO means Woodfibre LNG can take full advantage of the expertise of the organization, while awaiting full membership once our facility is in full operation.”
SIGTTO will not accept Woodfibre LNG as a full member until it actually operates an LNG plant; however, Woodfibre has all of the same benefits as other members, save for the right to vote at the annual general meeting.
Sunshine Coast citizens like Jef Keighley were pushing for Woodfibre LNG’s membership in the group because it would then have to abide by the LNG standards SIGTTO has.
As strikes against the project by SIGTTO’s standards, Keighley pointed to concerns with Woodfibre’s navigation route being too narrow, its port being in a location that conflicts with other waterway uses, its proximity to the town of Squamish, and its terminal being situated on an outside curve of a waterway.
However, John French, community relations manager with Woodfibre LNG, said this week that the project actually “complies in every way with SIGTTO guidance.”
He said the guidelines specify that any narrow channels Woodfibre’s tankers would travel must be 180 metres wide for one-way travel and 600 metres wide for turning around.
“Howe Sound is at its narrowest along the shipping route 1,400 metres,” French said.
He said shipping from the site doesn’t conflict with other waterway uses as there are “no large vessel movements within 2.7 km” of the proposed port and noted Woodfibre LNG is seven kilometres away from downtown Squamish.
“Although SIGTTO’s site selection and design guidelines for LNG ports and jetties recommend port designers to construct LNG jetties in a location suitably distant from centres of populations, they do not define a minimum distance,” French said.
On the issue of the terminal being situated on the outside curve of a waterway, French said the problem being addressed by the SIGTTO guideline is the possibility of a large ship headed toward the terminal losing control and crashing into it.
“Large vessels that head to and from Squamish terminals have their route almost parallel to vessels destined for the Woodfibre LNG terminal and never during their navigational route are headed on a course towards the Woodfibre LNG terminal jetty.”
French said he hopes the recent inclusion in SIGTTO will help calm some fears in the community about the Woodfibre LNG project, which is expected to move ahead after the project’s 180-day environmental assessment application review phase, which started on Jan. 13. Find out more at www.woodfibrelng.ca