Oil Sands Environmental Coalition

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1 Oil Sands Environmental Coalition 2 December 2013 Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Attention: David Haddon Panel Manager 160 Elgin Street, 22nd Floor Ottawa ON K1A 0H3 Re: November 4 th invitation for public comments on additional information for the TECK RESOURCES LIMITED FRONTIER OIL SANDS MINE PROJECT, CEAA Reference Number: Dear Mr. Haddon, I am writing to you on behalf of the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition (OSEC) regarding the proposed Teck Resources Limited Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project (herein referred to as the Project). As stated in our Statement of Concern, 1 OSEC has ongoing concerns regarding the Project s terrestrial impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, air emissions, water use, and impacts to wildlife. There are three broad areas of concern where the information submitted by the proponent is inadequate: air exceedances and greenhouse gas emissions, tailings management, and terrestrial disturbances. OSEC respectfully asks that the Project proponent address the questions provided below. Mitigation of air exceedances Volume 4, , , , , and SIR1 ERCB Q108 Comparing the PM2.5 contours to the locations where individuals might be present (Section ) shows that there are a number of locations where individuals will likely encounter high levels of PM2.5. Although the risk quotient for health identified for PM2.5 is below 1 (Table 2-17) it is very close (0.99) and should be considered a potential concern. In addition, Teck s analysis shows that there is the potential for PM2.5 exceedances of the AAAQO in the region based on the expected development in the area. While the Project alone isn t expected to add significant PM2.5 emissions, continued development in the area will not serve to reduce the health impact of these emissions. 1 OSEC Statement of Concern as filed June 4 th CEAA registry, Frontier Oil Sands Mine Project, document 33. Retrieved at: 1

2 1. Please explain why a risk quotient of 0.99 is not considered to be a potential concern related to the accuracy of the analysis. 2. Given the expectation that PM2.5 emissions in the area are increasing above the AAAQO, please describe the management activities (further to those identified in Teck s application) that will be necessary by Teck and other operators in the area to meet the AAAQO. 3. Please describe the management actions Teck is considering during periods of exceedance not due to industrial emissions (i.e. forest fires, etc). 4. Please describe why the assumption was made that workers do not participate in recreational activity in the area. Please describe what impact this consideration has on the health risk quotient for workers. Volume 4, and SIR1 ERCB Q113 The source monitoring section anticipates what will likely be included in the EPEA approval for monitoring requirements. Teck also identifies that procedures of the Wood Buffalo Monitoring Association (WBEA) will be followed to ensure an appropriate level of site-wide odour monitoring is in place. 5. In the event that the actions anticipated to be included are not identified within the EPEA approval, please describe Teck s anticipated activities. 6. Please describe the bare minimum odour-monitoring plan Teck is considering undertaking in the absence of requirements placed by EPEA. Volume 6, , SIR1 ERCB Q107 Teck has demonstrated that expected levels of NOx from the Project in combination with other developments in the area are expected to reach the AAAQO s. Teck also states that long-term NOx exposure effects vegetation s resistance to frost. 7. As the Project is expected to operate for 40 years (until 2054), and the climate in the area is frequently subject to frost, there is a high expectation that vegetation will be affected. Please further discuss the expected impact to vegetation in the area with respect to long-term exposure to these emissions and comment on how the expected development in the area will contribute to this long-term exposure. SIR1 ERCB Q110, SIR1 AESRD Q21 Teck s assessment shows that exceedances in NOx emissions will occur in the case that Tier IV compliant vehicles are not used in all mines in the area. 8. Please describe how Teck will ensure that these mines will convert their fleets to Tier IV vehicles to ensure there will be no exceedances. 9. Teck indicates that they will acquire the most appropriate truck available for 2

3 their mine fleet if Tier IV trucks are not available. Please describe the most appropriate truck based on Teck s current understanding. Moreover, please describe how the most appropriate truck fleet would impact the AAAQO given the concerns regarding the availability of Tier IV trucks. SIR1 AESRD Q11 Teck indicates [ ] temporal trends in ambient air quality will be tracked to confirm that mitigation and management remain appropriate. 10. Please describe, in quantitative detail, further actions that can be undertaken if the proposed mitigation and management of air quality is found to be insufficient. SIR2 AESRD Q9 11. Teck indicates that passive monitoring would be installed after production has been initiated. As baseline information in critical in assessing the impact of industrial facilities, please outline Teck s plans to install passive monitoring in the area prior to the Project s construction and production. Volume 4, Teck indicates that in Fort Chipewyan [ ] much of the increased predicted concentrations [ ] can be attributed to increase community emissions. Please describe what emissions are expected to increase due to the community. Further, please describe the source of these emissions in the community. Volume 4, Teck indicates that there will be incremental GHG emissions of 5.2 Mt associated with the Project, representing an increase of 2.2% from 2009 Alberta-wide emissions. 13. Please discuss how these additional emissions are consistent with Alberta and Canada s stated climate change objectives. Please also discuss how Teck intends to contribute to meeting these objectives. 14. Please discuss how the developments expected in the area cumulatively contribute to Alberta and Canada s stated climate change objectives. Volume 1, Teck indicates that they have elected to employ technology and processes that reduce emissions beyond what is mandatory, and that one of these actions could include incorporating a cost of carbon in the evaluation of the Project s economics. 15. Please discuss the extent to which Teck considered a cost of carbon in evaluation 3

4 of the Project economics. Please discuss the cost of carbon that was employed in this analysis. If none, please discuss this choice. SIR1 AESRD Q30 Teck indicates that there would be increased GHG emissions associated with their Options 1 Connection to the Alberta grid and on-site boilers for heat and power. For this analysis, Teck assumed a mix of power supply in Alberta. 16. Please describe Teck s assumptions regarding future power supply in Alberta and the expected greenhouse gas intensity of that power. SIR2 AESRD Q194 Teck concludes that the health quotient for mercury in the SLWRA is less than one and does not pose a health risk. However, recent studies have identified increased mercury levels in waterfowl downstream of the oilsands facilities. 17. Please discuss the extent to which the employed methodology (OMOE 2011) considered the effect of bioaccumulation of mercury in the environment given the long operating life of the Project. 18. Please describe the expected sources (either waterborne or airborne) of mercury from the Teck facility. Tailings management plan Volume 1, , SIR1, Response 54, SIR2, Response 22 In both the initial environmental assessment and subsequent SIR filings, Teck states that its Frontier mine will comply with Directive 074. The Project proponent asserts that the Project will meet the intent of the Directive s fines capture requirements by deploying a thickened tailings (TT) technology (Tailings Reduction Operations 2, or TRO) as the primary fines management technology for managing its waste tailings product. A thin-lift drying (TLD) process will be deployed in addition to TRO. It is important to note that, despite the large financial investment in this technology by Suncor and others, there are currently no examples of commercial-scale oilsands facilities complying with Directive In the first round of Supplemental Information Requests, the Project proponent was asked to supply a contingency plan in the event that its technologies were insufficient to satisfy the 2 Information obtained in conversation with Ian Mackenzie, Director, External Affairs, Teck Resources Ltd. and Sheila Risbud, Regulatory Manager, Teck Resources Ltd. 3 For further discussion on industry tailings performance, see: Energy Resource Conservation Board, 2012 Tailings Management Assessment Report: Oil Sands Mining Industry, June

5 requirements of the directive. The Project proponent s response to this request was nonspecific and did not provide information relevant to stakeholder concerns. SIR1 Response 54, Volume 1, Section 6.2, Page 6-5 Teck s submission to ESRD SIR1 Response 54 was not responsive to the original ERCB request. Teck has outlined a contingency plan centered around two technologies for fines treatment, however they have not described management actions in the event these technologies do not perform as anticipated. Teck is committed to employing TRO with a more experimental technology (TLD), In Response 54, Teck states: If one method does not capture fines in line with expected performance, utilization of the other technology can be increased. While it is important to support continued research and development in the tailings domain, it is not sufficient for new mines to rely on unproven technologies to meet Directive 074. The Project proponent has not sufficiently demonstrated they can comply with Directive 074. Moreover, they have not advanced commercial-scale evidence to support the claim that TRO and TLD can be employed to meet the fines capture requirements. Further, the Project proponent has not provided sufficient details to convince stakeholders that it has a realistic and achievable contingency plan in the event its technologies do not perform as expected. Volume 1, and SIR2, Response 22, Volume 1 The Project proponent states that there is uncertainty regarding its ability to comply with the trafficability requirement of Directive 074. Teck has stated: The plan is to meet the intent of Directive 074 with respect to trafficability of the tailings deposits for the purposes of reclamation although some uncertainty remains as to whether TT deposits will achieve the strength characteristics within the timeframe prescribed in Directive 074. In SIR2, Volume 1, Teck provides a generic TT solids concentration vs. Time curve. This data is not reflective of Teck s operations and is therefore not a reliable tool to predict the undrained shear strength for the Frontier Oil Sands Mine project. Moreover, Teck states that: [ ] performance [ ] is expected to be demonstrated in the industry in the next several years. The Project proponent is relying on generic models and an unproven assumption that technology will progress at a rate consistent with meeting the Project s tailings capture and trafficability requirements. 1. Please submit a detailed plan responsive to the original request for a tailings management contingency plan. Please provide a discussion on technology choices, costs, and all models generated in-house to prove anticipated compliance with tailings rules. 2. What evidence can Teck present to support its claim of meeting the fines capture requirements as outlined in the Directive? Please provide a technical discussion outlining why and how Teck can meet these requirements in the absence of any industry evidence supporting this claim. 3. Please provide specific, commercial-scale evidence to support the claim that DDA 5

6 trafficability requirements will be met within the Directive s time frame. Mitigation of terrestrial and wildlife impacts ESRD SIR 2 Response 196 S.19 of CEAA (2012) requires the review of the Project to include: (d) mitigation measures that are technically and economically feasible and that would mitigate any significant adverse environmental effects of the designated project; Teck s assessment demonstrates that the Project contributes to unacceptable environmental impacts on a range of terrestrial, wildlife and wetland values. In Response 196 Teck notes that they are willing to reduce their contribution to cumulative effects by providing offsets for Project specific-effects [ ] through the development of a Conservation Agreement as discussed in the response to ESRD/CEAA Round 1 SIR 221 and ERCB Round 2 SIR 29. In the response to ERCB Round 2 SIR 29 Teck states that: Teck believes that the development of detailed mitigation measures or offset plans that could form the basis of a Conservation Agreement or Conservation Allowance should not occur until the anticipated EPEA approval for the Project is received, and consultation with regulators and potentially affected Aboriginal communities and stakeholders is completed. OSEC rejects this assertion. Teck s assessment and previous oilsands decisions have already demonstrated that offset mitigation is required to address cumulative environmental impacts. Mitigation measures 4 should be presented prior to and defended at the hearing, not negotiated afterwards. Biodiversity offsets are mitigation measures. In SIR1 Response 221 Teck notes that: Teck will work with regulators and Aboriginal communities to explore the need for additional mitigation measures, which may include habitat offsets, to meet the requirements of Section 79(2) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to avoid or lessen Project effects. Basic procedural fairness requires the hearing proponents to have a fair opportunity to review whether offsets proposed by Teck will mitigate adverse effects and to respond to Teck s proposed mitigation. Therefore OSEC will need to review proposed offset mitigation to understand and test the technical and economic feasibility, relevance and potential effectiveness to reduce the adverse effects. Such information is necessary for the review panel to meet its mandate. The panel must consider the nature, scope and severity of the effects of the Project. This includes the nature, scope and amelioration of any proposed offsets. OSEC expects that prior to the Project hearing, Teck will submit a full suite of planned biodiversity offsets to ensure no net adverse impacts on species at risk, wetlands, and other wildlife species that show regional level impacts. Teck still has not presented enough information to 4 mitigation measures means measures for the elimination, reduction or control of the adverse environmental effects of a designated project, and includes restitution for any damage to the environment caused by those effects through replacement, restoration, compensation or any other means. 6

7 determine if proposed offsets will quantitatively offset projected impacts. 1. Please describe the portfolio of potential additional lands that will be conserved or restored in order to mitigate any significant adverse environmental effects of the Project. 2. Please describe, quantitatively, how these actions will mitigate Project impacts. 3. Provide a technical analysis of potential offsets to quantitatively demonstrate mitigation of impacts on species at risk, wetlands, old growth forests and other valued ecosystem components. 4. Please describe what legal mechanisms will be used to maintain the integrity of offset lands in perpetuity. 5. Please describe how Teck has consulted stakeholders in the development of its offset mitigation plans. SIR2 AESRD Q29 Teck states that alternates to using Unnamed lake 1 as a sedimentation pond would significantly increase the cost and terrestrial effects of the Project. 6. Please describe the alternative options considered. 7. Please outline the additional cost and terrestrial effects associated with these alternative options. With respect to the above questions and comments, the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition believes that Teck Resources Ltd. has not submitted sufficient evidence to stakeholders regarding mitigation of the Project s adverse environmental impacts. At this time, the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition believes the environmental assessment to be incomplete. We appreciate your prompt reply to the above indicated questions and concerns. Sincerely, Erin Flanagan Technical and Policy Analyst, Oilsands Pembina Institute On behalf of the Oil Sands Environmental Coalition 7

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