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NNSL Photo/graphic

Imperial Oil legal representative Don Davies, left, addresses a panel comprising Environment Canada supporters, Dr. Phil Marsh, Dr. Steve Solomon, Dr. Paul Latour, Bill Gummer and Kevin McCormick. The two factions sparred over the possible effects that the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline would have on the Kendall Island bird sanctuary during hearings last week. - Dez Loreen/NNSL photo

Bird sanctuary needs quiet

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Nov 24/06) - Noise levels of potential development in the Kendall Island bird sanctuary had the full attention of the Joint Review Panel on the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline last Thursday in Inuvik.

Environment Canada is concerned that noise levels from Imperial Oil's proposed natural gas facility near the sanctuary may have a negative effect on the birds that use the land.

The government agency has imposed a noise limit of 50 decibels at a range of 300 metres from the proposed development.

The Kendall sanctuary occupies 623-square kilometres, and is a breeding place and migration staging ground for shorebirds and waterfowl. It sits atop the Taglu natural gas field, which is one of the three areas the proposed pipeline would draw from.

Imperial Oil wants to use 3.5 square kilometres of the sanctuary to build an airstrip, processing facility and a camp to house nearly 300 employees.

Imperial Oil legal representative Don Davies presented some ideas on noise reduction to the panel.

He said Imperial is planning on using low-noise fans at the cooling stations in their facilities on the Taglu field.

Among other ideas proposed by Imperial was the use of noise-suppressing barriers to lower the effect on local bird life.

Dr. Paul Wierzba of Environment Canada said that placing barriers alongside the facility would reduce noise levels.

"Noise barriers are standard practice in oil fields; the size of the barrier depends on the height of the facility," said Wierzba.

Davies said the proposed barriers were designed for a facility built on the ground, not on pilings.

Davies added that for the barrier to have its full effect, it would have to stand more than eight metres tall, which may not be feasible in the area because of blowing snow build-up.

Forest bird biologist Craig Machtans said that Environment Canada would not tell the proponent how to reach their noise level standards.

"There are other noise abatement techniques as well," said Machtans.

"We set our requirements and now it's up to the proponent to meet them."

The National Energy Board is in town this week to discuss commercial impacts of the proposed pipeline on the region.