Don’t Let Woodfibre LNG Roll Back Decades of Cleanup in Howe Sound

The SCCA has received the following letter from, who are working to protect Howe Sound from environmental degradation.

Woodfibre LNG has applied for a permit from the B.C. Energy Regulator (BCER) to discharge millions of cubic metres of toxic construction effluent into Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound.

Late last year, Woodfibre LNG also applied to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to weaken the conditions of its environmental assessment certificate so that it is not held accountable for disturbing pre-existing contaminants from the old pulp and paper mill, and to limit its responsibility to protect all aquatic life.

Woodfibre LNG wants to discharge an average of 1,600 cubic metres of toxic effluent per day for over four years during construction, with a maximum daily discharge of 30,000 cubic metres. That’s 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Possible contaminants include:

Heavy metals

Copper, lead, zinc, and vanadium are expected to exceed water quality guidelines and will be discharged into the foreshore in Átl’ka7tsem / Howe Sound. This will result in accumulation or build-up of persistent toxic contaminants in the sediments and waters, and has the potential to harm local aquatic wildlife such as fish, bivalves, and algae.

Dioxins and furans

Construction activities are likely to remobilize toxic organic chemicals including dioxins and furans, which are a legacy from the pulp and paper mill. These chemicals are known to be harmful to wildlife and human health.

Total suspended solids

Total suspended solids are expected to be low risk to aquatic life, but will require constant monitoring to ensure sediments do not smother benthic organisms, such as rockweed and herring eggs, or block the penetration of sunlight into the water column.


Woodfibre LNG is proposing discharge release of 5.5 to 9.0 pH, which exceeds the upper and lower limits of Canadian guidelines of 7.0 to 8.7 pH required for protection of marine aquatic life.

We have hired an expert in environmental toxicology to help us to review both FortisBC and Woodfibre LNG’s applications to the BC Energy Regulator to discharge effluent into the Squamish River and Howe Sound. This expert has already flagged that “Woodfibre LNG’s proposed effluent discharge exceeds water quality guidelines” and “will result in accumulation or build-up of many persistent toxic contaminants in the sediments and waters of Howe Sound.”

Our communities have worked for decades to clean up the toxic legacy of past industries in Átl’ḵa7tsem / Howe Sound. We cannot allow Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC to pollute these fragile and recovering ecosystems again.

Take action! Send a letter to Minister Guilbeault!

We can still stop this from happening and hold Woodfibre LNG accountable for its pollution. Minister Guilbeault has not yet approved the changes Woodfibre LNG has requested to weaken the conditions of its environmental assessment certificate.

Tell him to hold Woodfibre LNG to the highest standards based on the latest science.

Send a Letter Now

We will continue to hold these two companies accountable with your support.

With gratitude,
Rhiannon Fox
Campaign Coordinator
My Sea to Sky

The photograph shows Herring eggs on kelp, with the Woodfibre LNG site in the background. The proposed effluent discharge from Woodfibre LNG could smother kelp and herring eggs with sediment, and increase exposure to heavy metals, organic compounds, and pH levels that are toxic for aquatic life. Photo: John Buchanan

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