Enbridge seeking run-of-river project on B.C. fish-bearing stream

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A numbered company owned by Enbridge, proponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline project, wants to build a major run-of-river power project on the same fish-bearing B.C. river where an earlier such project was rejected on environmental grounds.

A report by Canadian Projects Ltd. for 8056587 Canada Inc. — owned by Calgary-based Enbridge — notes that the proposed 120-megawatt Clore River run-of-river project would be located about 60 kilometres southeast of Terrace.

The river would be diverted through a 6.4-kilometre tunnel and then through a penstock (water pipeline) for the remaining 1.1 kilometres to a powerhouse before being returned to the river. A new 47-kilometre 230-kilovolt transmission line will be required to connect the project to the existing BC Hydro electrical grid.

The report, dated July 2012, notes that chinook salmon, Dolly Varden trout, rainbow trout, and mountain whitefish are thought to live in the Clore River. “Fish screens or other design considerations may be required in order to avoid entrainment or other impacts to fish should they exist.”

The plan is to have project approvals by mid-2014 and the project operational in 2016, the report said, noting the watershed is located within the traditional territory of the Haisla, Skin Tyee, and Kitselas first nations.

Pat Moss, coordinator of Friends of Wild Salmon in Smithers, said the involvement of Enbridge “goes to show that the risks they pose to this region are more than just oil spills and it further illustrates the lack of transparency we have come to expect from the company.”

The Clore River has important fisheries values and is highly valued by northwest residents,” said Moss, adding: “I predict this proposal will be rejected too.”

The waterway was the subject of an earlier controversial run-of-river proposal by C-Free Power Corp.

The company officially withdrew its plan after learning that “productive fish habitat is present throughout the entire length of the Clore River and that no barriers to migration exist,” project manager Lillian Zaremba said in a Feb. 4, 2009, letter to the province and others.

“We believe in developing only environmentally and socially responsible projects and will not pursue projects that create negative impacts on the environment or communities.”

Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht confirmed Enbridge has received a licence to carry out investigative assessments into the feasibility of a run-of-river project on the Clore River.

“We have been notified by groups in the area that a project of this nature may have an impact on fish species … and we are in communications with these groups to better understand their concerns …” he said.

Enbridge has steadily increased its investments in “clean energy projects, growing our renewable energy assets from virtually nothing to almost $3 billion in just 12 years,” including wind, solar, geothermal and hydro projects, he said.

The interim findings of a Pacific Salmon Foundation study of 44 run-of-river projects released earlier this month found that up to 73 per cent have the potential to impact fish in the upper reaches and closer to 88 per cent in the lower reaches. “There is only one facility that does not have salmonids present …” said foundation president Brian Riddell, in reference to salmon, trout and char species.


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