TransCanada begins drilling in Hazelton area

Company has started test drilling at river crossings in the Hazleton area for their proposed LNG transmission project.

TransCanada Pipelines has started test drilling at river crossings in the Hazleton area for their proposed natural gas transmission project.

Recently, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission granted approval to Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of TransCanada, to conduct borehole drilling near the Cranberry, Skeena and Shegunia Rivers.

The purpose of the borehole drilling is to assess slope stability and to determine the technical feasibility of constructing a pipeline at the river crossings, explained Davis Sheremeta, media relations with TransCanada.

“It should be emphasized that no testing is done under rivers and there is no impact on the rivers during the testing,” he said.

Drilling adjacent to the Cranberry River began Feb. 28, work near the Skeena started March 10 and borehole testing for the Shegunia will take place this summer, Sheremeta said.

“We expect this process to take between 20 to 30 days at each site,” he said.

“The boreholes are typically drilled 75 to 100 metres vertically into the ground. These are well back of the rivers, typically 50 to 70 metres from the riverbanks.”

Hazelton resident Graeme Pole has been pushing TransCanada for more information on the drilling program but said he has not yet received a satisfactory response.

On Oct. 15 of last year, the Kispiox Valley Community Centre Association requested more details on the drilling but were given a generalized overview of the process and not the specifics that were requested.

“What may be business as usual for TransCanada Pipelines is the beginning of disruption as unusual for those that live nearby and is not appreciated,” Pole said in a March 20 letter to the proponents community relations advisor Shaheem Kassam. “Local helicopter traffic is already a problem, without any regard for direct passes over residences or time of day.”

Dana Hibbard from the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coaltion said she has noticed a significant amount of activity around the Skeena River lately and was encouraging concerned residents to contact TransCanada to learn more about the testing that is taking place.

“Helicopter traffic has picked up substantially and sling loads of gear have been going into a site near the Muldoe [Forest Service Rd.] over the past week,” Hibbard said.

The proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project will run a 48-inch pipeline about 900 kms from near the District of Hudson’s Hope in northeastern B.C. to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG export facility on Lelu Island in the District of Port Edward.

The project is currently being reviewed by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.