Summary of Public Comments and Concerns - Public Consultation of October 4 and 5, 2016

Federal Environmental Assessment of the Marine Terminal Project on the North Shore of the Saguenay River

Summary of Public Comments and Concerns
Public Consultation of October 4 and 5, 2016 at the Multipurpose Centre in Saint-Fulgence, Quebec

On October 4 and 5, 2016, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) provided the public with an opportunity to participate in the environmental assessment being conducted under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). An open house and public information session were held in Saint-Fulgence to gather the public's comments and concerns regarding the marine terminal project on the north shore of the Saguenay and the environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted to the Agency by the Saguenay Port Authority (the proponent).

A number of federal and provincial departments acting as experts on the federal project committee responsible for the environmental assessment—namely Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Parks Canada, the Laurentian Pilotage Authority and the Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les Changements climatiques)—were present at the activities. The Saguenay Port Authority was also present.

At the open house on October 4, the issues addressed in the environmental assessment were presented by representatives from the responsible departments. Roughly 30 participants had an opportunity to speak directly with the representatives of the departments present and to ask questions and obtain clarifications on the project, its potential effects and the applicable regulatory framework. Visitors were also able to speak with the Saguenay Port Authority, which presented its project and the conclusions of its environmental impact statement.

The public session on October 5, which was attended by approximately 90 people, was facilitated and moderated by Richard Thibault of RTCOMM. The participants had an opportunity to ask questions and express their concerns to those present. A number of residents of Saint-Fulgence and the Anse à Pelletier area expressed their concerns on such issues as noise, recreational activities in the area, and landscape changes. The mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord and the reeve of the regional county municipality of Fjord-du-Saguenay also took the floor to underline their support for the project, and a member of the Chamber of Commerce asked the proponent how its project would benefit local employment. The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Regional Council for Environment and Sustainable Development asked for details on the project decommissioning phase and the members of the Saguenay Watershed Group asked questions about the monitoring of beluga whales during the work and the environmental impacts of other potential clients of the terminal.

The following table provides a brief summary of the issues and concerns raised during the two consultation activities. The Agency and the federal will examine these concerns and will take them into consideration in the environmental assessment.

In its environmental assessment report, a draft of which will be subject to public consultation, the Agency will more explicitly address the comments and concerns received from the public on the proponent's EIS and the Agency's draft environmental assessment report.

Main Concerns and Comments Received from the Public Regarding the Proponent's Environmental Impact Statement

Issue

Intervenor

Questions/Concerns

Alternative means of carrying out the project

Residents

  • The choice of the site was questioned given the natural characteristics of the area. Why did the EIS present only alternative sites on the north shore of the Saguenay River? Would there be less impact on the marine park if the Forestville alternative were chosen?

Purpose of the project

Residents

  • If Arianne Phosphate abandons its project, will the terminal still be built? Concerns were raised about the possibility of the terminal being built, but the primary client, Arianne Phosphate, not proceeding with its project, thus resulting in an unused terminal.
  • Who are the other potential clients? Are there any?
  • What is the current percentage of use of the Grande-Anse Terminal?
  • How will the proponent support local employment in its project?
  • How many jobs will be created during the construction phase?

Noise and light

Residents

  • Light and noise associated with the project could have adverse effects on the residents' quality of life. This includes noise associated with heavy truck traffic and with activities at the wharf during terminal construction and operation, particularly the propagation of noise and vibrations in the direction of residences near the project site. Concerns were raised about a potential discrepancy between reality and the estimated modelled effects presented in the EIS. Vibrations can be a source of disturbance. Can measures be taken if the actual effects are different from the estimated effects?
  • Residents mentioned that the representation of the distance of the permanent and secondary residences from the project site provided in the EIS is not accurate. This could have an impact on the effects assessment presented in the EIS.

Blasting

Residents

  • The blasting planned during the construction of the terminal could generate pollution, primarily dust, and noise that could adversely affect residents living near the project site.
  • Given the planned duration of the construction work, i.e., over two years, the noise associated with the blasting could have an impact on fish.
  • Following recent rockslides in the area due to weather events, concerns remain about the risk of rockslides following blasting. How did the proponent assess these risks?

Landscape

Resident, Saguenay Watershed Group

  • The location selected for the project has unique natural characteristics. The presence of the wharf, the large rock face and planned silos will alter the landscape. Can the proponent confirm that it is necessary to construct such a large rock face? And will the planned planting of vines cover everything?
  • Is the method used to assess the impacts of the project on the landscape adequate? The proponent's EIS does not present a visual simulation with real images; it provides infographics only, and no visual simulation was carried out for the winter period. How can the proponent conclude that there will be no significant effects on the landscape?

Air quality

Resident, reeve of the Regional County Municipality of Fjord-du-Saguenay

  • Dust emissions from the project, particularly from truck traffic, could increase the risk of respiratory problems for the sensitive residents living near the project site. Will monitoring stations be installed to monitor air quality? How will the proponent ensure dust control?
  • Concerns were raised about the fact that greenhouse gas emissions would be caused by project-related truck traffic, which seems to be inconsistent with the climate change objectives of the Canada and Quebec governments.

Risk of accidents and malfunctions

Residents, mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, Saguenay Watershed Group, warden of the Regional County Municipality of Fjord-du-Saguenay

  • Questions were raised about the risk of accidents and malfunctions associated with navigation, particularly the risk of ship collisions on the Saguenay River. Is this river a high-risk area for navigation, particularly in winter?
  • An oil spill in the Saguenay River during the operations phase of the new terminal could have adverse environmental effects. Does the configuration of the Saguenay River complicate clean-up operations in the event of an oil spill?

Water quality

Residents

  • The alteration of the water quality in the watershed due to land-based terminal activities (trucking, silos, transportation of goods or ore) could have an impact on the well drinking water quality of residences in the vicinity.
  • The nearby drinking water wells do not appear to be all identified in the EIS. Is the proponent planning to monitor the wells?
  • What would be the effects of an apatite spill into the river?

Beluga and fish

Saguenay Watershed Group, residents

  • Questions were raised about the effectiveness of the methods proposed by the proponent for monitoring beluga whales during construction, a species listed under the Species at Risk Act. How will the proponent determine the area that will need to be protected in order to protect this species during wharf construction activities, both during the day and at night, since activity at night is planned?
  • Considering the proximity of Grande-Anse terminal, what will be the cumulative effects of another marine terminal in the Saguenay River on the beluga and fish populations?
  • What effects will the project have on striped bass?
  • It was asked that the presence of a brook trout population in the river at Pelletier be formally recognized.

Saguenay – St.Lawrence Marine Park

Residents

  • How is it that commercial vessels are authorized to navigate in the marine park?
  • What are the impacts of the project on the Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park?

Monitoring of project effects

Resident

  • It was asked that a project effects monitoring committee be formed with residents of Anse à Pelletier.

Impacts associated with the projects of future users of the terminal (multi-user terminal)

Residents, Saguenay Watershed Group

  • A number of concerns were raised about the potential impacts of the infrastructure and operations of as yet unknown future users of the terminal. How does the proponent plan to address the needs of future clients for transporting products other than apatite, such as copper or gold, and what roads will be used to transport these other resources to the wharf? Might additional infrastructure be built? How will the potential impacts of the construction of additional silos or infrastructure required to meet the needs of future clients be assessed? Will there be further consultations?
  • The inability of servicing the port by rail is an impediment to other potential uses. Concerns were raised about the real possibility of other clients coming forward. Why would future clients be interested in using the new terminal rather than the existing Grande-Anse terminal, which is serviced by rail? Does the fact that the project is presented as a multi-use project, even though there is only one known client at present, mean there could be additional impacts? What adaptations are made to the project to make it a multi-use terminal and to allow its use by clients other than Arianne Phosphate?

Recreational and tourism activities

Residents

  • The project could adversely affect the sustainability of recreational activities (ice fishing, kayaking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing) in the project area. Will these activities still be permitted in winter even with icebreaker operations and Port Authority regulations?
  • Concerns were raised about the possibility of co-existence of pleasure craft and commercial vessels in the project area. Will the safety of pleasure craft and kayaks be compromised? Will the project have impacts on the activities of the Cap Jaseux adventure park?

Environmental assessment process

Mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, residents

  • How does the federal environmental assessment process work, and what is the role of the expert departments in the analysis? How is social acceptability taken into account in the federal environmental assessment process?
  • Why were separate environmental assessments conducted for the Arianne Phosphate mine project and the marine terminal project on the north shore of the Saguenay River?
  • Concerns were raised about the potential effects on air quality from truck traffic related to the Arianne Phosphate mine project authorized by the Quebec government, as they were not taken into account in the Agency's assessment.

Other

Residents, Chamber of Commerce, Regional Environment and Sustainable Development Council

  • Is a decommissioning phase planned at the end of the mine operations if the Arianne Phosphate mine remains the only client? Is there legislation that would require the proponent to decommission the facilities if there are no more clients?
  • Is the Saguenay Port concerned about the fact that the terminal will be accessible only by a private road owned by Arianne Phosphate? This will complicate access to the terminal for other clients.
  • What are the navigation-related costs associated with the use of tug boats, icebreakers, pilotage and other? Who pays for these costs, the proponent or its clients? What are the costs associated with the construction of the terminal?

Document Reference Number: 69

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