Underwater testing no problem, says company

  • Feb. 14, 2003 9:00 a.m.

Underwater seismic testing planned by the company hoping to build a wind farm in Hecate Strait will not be harmful, accoriding to a company spokesman.
Michael Margolick, Nai Kun Wind Development Inc.’s vice president of technology, said the seismic testing will use only a tiny fraction of the blasting power the oil and gas industry would use, and will not harm marine life.
“For oil and gas exploration, they go down thousands and thousands of metres,” he said. “We want to go down 30 metres…. It will be like a little pop gun instead of a giant boom, basically.”
Nai Kun plan to build a huge offshore wind farm in the strait, and has applied for a permit to explore a large area of shallow seabed off the east coast of Graham Island.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has guidelines on seabed seismic testing and the company will comply with them, he added.
“The facts are that we are using a volume of air on the order of half a percent of what the oil and gas industry would use,” Mr. Margolick said.
The company needs to do this work to figure out which parts of the seabed are suitable for foundations for the windmills, he explained. The researchers will be looking for areas of sand and gravel as opposed to solid rock.
Masset economic development coordinator Shirley Kricheldorf earlier raised the concerns about seismic testing after looking at information on the Living Oceans Society’s website.
Meanwhile, Land and Water BC will decide by next month whether to issue the investigative permit Nai Kun has applied for. This permit will allow the company to test the seabed to see whether the area is suitable for a wind farm. It does not allow any construction.
Jim McGregor, manager at the Smithers field office of Land and Water BC, said he received responses to Nai Kun’s application from the Council of the Haida Nation, the Area A Crab Association, the Village of Masset, and the Delkatla Sanctuary Society.
“They basically were pointing out the richness of the area, and requesting additional information,” Mr. McGregor said.
The company will have to follow a three-step process before a wind farm could possibly be constructed in Hecate Strait, he added. The exploration permit is the first step. Next, the company would apply for a licence of occupation, which would allow it to put up a tower and wind meter, for example, to collect data. Finally, it would need a long-term lease or licence of occupation before it put up any permanent structures.