Thursday, March 14, 2013

Protecting Howe Sound

Now that Howe Sound is well on the way to recovery from years of toxic leeching from gold mines, mills and industrial development, it's time to wreck it again!

“This repeated series of proposals for heavy new industry in Howe Sound, we believe, underscores the need for a comprehensive management plan put in place for the Howe Sound region,” he said.
As an example of the current piecemeal approach, he said Sunshine Coast Regional District has a document called “We Envision” that sets forth a set of ecosystem management objectives. But the document’s reach stops at the north end of the Howe Sound Pulp and Paper mill at Port Mellon, he said.

“There have been hundreds of millions spent on remediation of Howe Sound, and there’s been a significant recovery of the sound, but it’s very fragile and it’s not a given that the overall recovery will not be put in jeopardy by heavy, new industry.

“This [Woodfibre LNG] is clearly a large project. We don’t know a lot about it, but there’s certainly potential for impacts such as what I’ve outlined and we have concerns about those potential impacts.”
Though Gau didn’t want to get into specific concerns about the potential impacts of the Woodfibre LNG project, former Squamish councillor Meg Fellowes did. She told The Chief on Friday (March 8) that the “re-industrialization” of the Woodfibre site has the potential to threaten ongoing efforts to restore the sound to environmental health after decades of degradation, most of it the result of heavy industry.

The struggle to clean up the sound began well before the Woodfibre mill closed in 2006, she said, but has become much more evident since that time, Fellowes said.

Thanks in large measure to the efforts of groups such as Squamish Streamkeepers, who have worked diligently to restore the herring spawn to its former glory, dolphins and even whales have been seen at the head of Howe Sound. Tens of millions of dollars spent on water-quality remediation has also resulted in the restoration of the salmon run on Britannia Creek, she said.

Any sort of discharge from a future Woodfibre LNG plant, or from tanker ships serving the facility, has the potential to wipe out those gains in a matter of hours, she said.

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