On July 18, 2014 the Province of British Columbia released the
long-awaited Kitimat Airshed Study (though completed on
April 25, 2014, the study was not previously released pending
The study is an independent assessment intended to assist the
Province's regulatory decision-making process by providing
information that will be used to ultimately determine how many
industrial facilities can be added to the Kitimat airshed without
causing unacceptable impacts to human health and the environment.
The study area spans the length of the Douglas Channel from its
entrance near Hartley Bay, includes Kitimat, and continues up the
Kitimat River towards Terrace. This area, covering some 6,772
km2, is of great importance to a number of projects due
to its attractive location for industries seeking a marine terminal
along BC's Pacific Coast in order to access foreign
The study provides an assessment under various scenarios of the
likely effects on human health and the environment of
SO2 and NO2 emissions from existing and
proposed facilities in the area, namely the existing Rio-Tinto
Alcan aluminum smelter, projected emissions from four proposed LNG
terminals (Kitimat LNG, Douglas Channel LNG, Triton LNG, and LNG
Canada), a proposed oil refinery, and gas turbine powered
electrical generation facilities, as well as related marine
While the study does identify potential risks to human health
(especially in relation to SO2 emissions in proximity to
industrial areas) and environmental impacts (particularly impacts
to soil and lakes), BC's Environment Minister, Mary Polak,
"This study tells us that with proper management there is
significant capacity in the Kitimat airshed to safely accommodate
industrial growth, while still protecting human health and the
Notably, the study does not propose absolute limits on the
amount of emissions that would be acceptable in the Kitimat
This study will likely provide guidance for project proponents
with respect to the Province's approach to regulation of air
emissions not only in the Kitimat area, but also in nearby Prince
Rupert and Grassy Point, where results from this study are also
intended to help inform regulatory decision making.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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