A group of surveyors are escorted from Flora Bank.

A group of surveyors are escorted from Flora Bank.

Lelu Island occupiers escort ‘unauthorized’ surveying crew off of Flora Bank

The group occupying Lelu Island say they "escorted" a group of surveyors off of Flora Bank on Monday morning.

The group occupying Lelu Island to prevent the construction of a liquefied natural gas export terminal say they “escorted” a group of surveyors off of Flora Bank on Monday morning.

A group of five surveyors arrived to conduct sampling at approximately 8 a.m. on Sept. 28 when members of the Lax U’u’la Camp approached them and told the five the work they were doing was unauthorized. The crew stopped work and were walked off of Flora Bank.

Later that morning, at 9 a.m., the Lax U’u’la Camp members say they interrupted “unauthorized drilling” in the area.

“Surveyors and drillers are not permitted on Flora Bank or Lax U’u’la,” read a statement from the group.

Prince Rupert Port Authority manager of corporate communications Michael Gurney, however, said the surveyors were on scene to undertake work that came following consultation with various stakeholder groups.

“The Port Authority is aware of the interaction between contractors working for Pacific NorthWest LNG and individuals on Lelu Island who have expressed concern about a terminal development at that site. However, the facts remain unchanged: the Port Authority has authorized Pacific NorthWest LNG to continue its preliminary geotechnical site research and data collection to inform the ongoing Environmental Assessment. This work was begun following consultation with area First Nations, including Lax Kw’alaams, according to established protocols,” he said, noting the work does not constitute the start of construction.

“The Port Authority respects the right of all parties to express their opinion safely and peacefully about this project. Through a Notice to Mariners, we have communicated that a 50-metre safety zone should be observed around the vessels conducting the research work in Prince Rupert’s outer harbour. The Port Authority’s patrol boat, Charles Hays, is patrolling the harbour to ensure that principles of marine safety are upheld. Prince Rupert Port Authority staff will be asking any persons jeopardizing safety in the harbour to immediately refrain from doing so.”

Stantec, who the surveyors work for, said their employees did the right thing by vacating the site.

“Stantec was hired by Pacific NorthWest LNG to conduct eelgrass habitat baseline data collection on Flora Bank. On September 28, 2015, given the nature of the situation, our employees followed protocol and elected to respectfully leave the site,” said Stantec environmental services vice-president Asifa Samji.