Nexen Energy receives ‘slap on the wrist’ for damaging northeastern BC lake

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At least one critic calls the $75,000 fine handed to Nexen Energy — following a guilty plea in court — for damaging the habitat of a northeast B.C. Lake a ‘slap on the wrist.’

Given the North Tsea Lake is located within the Fort Nelson First Nation, Lana Lowe, the Director of the Fort Nelson First Nation’s Lands and Resources Department, also suggests the money would be better used to bolster the environmental protections of the First Nation’s traditional territory.

However, the Globe and Mail has obtained Fort Nelson Provincial Court clerk confirmation that all but $1,000 fine will go to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which supplies grants to people across the province with proposals that benefit fish, wildlife and habitat.

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Meantime, it’s also confirmed a company e-mail said Nexen respects the court’s ruling, has implemented additional monitoring and communications protocols, and remains committed to engaging all its stakeholders near its Northeast BC operations, as well as their health and safety.

In September, the BC Environmental Appeal Board ruled the Province failed to properly consult the First Nation, and employ adequate scientific modelling, when it approved a long-term water withdrawal licence for Nexen — which has Horn River Basin fracking operations.

It thus ordered the cancellation of the licence, which had granted the Calgary-based subsidiary of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation, permission to annually withdraw up to two and half million cubic meters of water from the lake until 2017.

Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan was then quoted as saying, ‘Granting this licence was a major mistake by the province,’ and now she suggests, it’s unfortunate her nation had to go to the courts and the appeal board to achieve its goals, but, ‘that’s what good stewardship is about.’

Finally she also acknowledges the First Nation is committed to maintaining a good working relationship with the oil and gas industry, because, ‘that’s the only economy up here right now.’

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