Response to Steelhead LNG CEO's letter to the editor

Former Malahat CEO Lawrence Lewis (L) and Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko (R)

Former Malahat CEO Lawrence Lewis (L) and Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko (R)

On February 23, 2016 a letter from Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko was published in the Cowichan Valley Citizen. We were notified that this letter has been sent to numerous outlets in the region.

We have sent the following response to the news outlet share this response with all new outlets that choose to publish Mr. Kuzemko's letter.


Re: Letter from Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko

Mr. Kuzemko has published complaints that critics of his company’s proposed Malahat LNG project are making “inaccurate claims about the project and about LNG itself.” Mr. Kuzemko fails to identify the inaccurate claims and offer corrections.

His letter is as vague as the public presentations about the project offered by Steelhead LNG over the past six months. Very little information about the project has been made available by Steelhead.

We critics are doing our research so we can effectively engage a “discussion based on facts and science,” but unless the “myths and misconceptions” are identified it is impossible to respond.

Steelhead fails to adequately address many “concerns and interests” that have been raised. For instance, when they state Malahat First Nation purchased the Bamberton property making them a partner in the Steelhead project, they fail to acknowledge that the Saanich Inlet is a shared territory with the other W̱SÁNEĆ people who have long and well-documented treaty rights to their territory.

Last October, the National Energy Board granted Steelhead LNG a license to export 6 million tonnes of LNG per year from their Bamberton site. The project will require tremendous amounts of power and air or water for its cooling systems. No matter which technology they finally settle on, Malahat LNG will negatively affect the quality of marine and human life in the area.

Steelhead calls the Saanich Inlet an industrial site. What they fail to recognize is that the Inlet has been in recovery for over 20 years. In the last decade the owner of Bamberton undertook a comprehensive and award-winning site remediation, costing a reported $12 million.

Local residents have been proud of the work we have done to minimize our impacts on the Inlet. It is highly unlikely the people who invested in property near the Inlet consider it industrial.

The Saanich Inlet is not well suited for an LNG facility. It is a highly-populated area, with a well developed local economy and a narrow, shallow entrance. An existing deep-water port and proximity to international shipping lanes hardly justifies this proposal in this location.

There are many other opportunities that Malahat First Nation could consider for their Bamberton lands that would provide benefits to the community, generate revenue, jobs and prosperity.

Mr. Kuzemko’s hypothetical jobs need to be considered in the context of the real and thriving economy that already exists in the Inlet, based on property values, recreation and tourism.

How will the cumulative emissions affect Butchart Gardens, one of the area’s largest employers? What will the cascading effect be on tourism in the Southern Vancouver Island region? And how will the plant affect the planned recovery of the Inlet waters and the return of a viable fishing industry?

Make no mistake the company is not looking for permission or approval from the communities. Steelhead LNG is only looking for an approval from provincial and federal regulators.

Steelhead’s community consultation process is an exercise in assessing the obstacles. Every point raised by critics will be mitigated and as long as the proposed mitigation measures are deemed to be reasonable by the regulators, not the community, the box is checked.

On February 16, 2016, the Saanich Inlet Network sent a letter to Steelhead LNG requesting copies of all their completed studies and technical designs as soon as they were available and, in addition, a timeline of when we can expect to receive this information.

Mr. Kuzemko’s charges of inaccurate information cannot be addressed until he identifies his specific concerns. For now all we can do is respond to his vague references as best we can.

The Saanich Inlet Network is a volunteer-driven local group that is working hard to research LNG in British Columbia in an effort to gain a better understanding of the industry and the implications of a project of this scale in our community.

Check out the Saanich Inlet Network at www.saanichinlet.net/.