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The company building a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to the coast in Kitimat, B.C., says clearing along a section of the pipeline route has been suspended because some work began before required assessments were in place.

Coastal GasLink says in a statement that an internal audit determined archeological impact assessments were not done before construction began at two points along the pipeline route east of Kitimat.

The assessments are conditions for the BC Oil and Gas Commission permit and the Environmental Assessment Certificate which allowed construction of the pipeline that will carry natural gas to a plant under construction in Kitimat.

The company says it has suspended all clearing activity along a portion of the pipeline until an internal review is complete and measures are in place to ensure similar incidents can’t happen again.

One of the sections that hadn’t been assessed measured 600 metres long by 50 metres wide, while the other was 240 metres by 10 metres, and Coastal GasLink says both sections bordered areas that had been assessed and were found to have a low likelihood of archeological significance.

The $6.2-billion pipeline is a crucial part of the $40-billion LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

David Pfeiffer, President, Coastal GasLink Pipelines Ltd., says the company is committed to protecting B.C.’s environmental and cultural values.

“Coastal GasLink regrets the errors that led to construction activities taking place without having approved archeological impact assessments in place prior to the start of construction,” he says in the statement.

The company has also apologized to local Indigenous communities and requested their participation in a proposed post-impact assessment, Pfeiffer says.

Construction of the pipeline caused controversy in January when 14 people were arrested while opposing the work south of Houston, but criminal contempt charges against the protesters were dropped several months later.

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