Cape Sharp Tidal scrambling to meet deadline for environmental monitoring

Photo shows placement of monitoring platform on the beach at low tide for testing

STORY UPDATED ON FRIDAY AUGUST 10

As the blades on the 16-metre tidal turbine deployed on July 22 in the Minas Passage continue to turn with no monitoring for their potential effects on sea creatures, Cape Sharp Tidal Ventures Inc. (CSTV) and the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) are scrambling to put a contingency monitoring plan in place before government regulators intervene.

In an e-mail to The New Wark Times, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) warns that Cape Sharp must deploy a monitoring platform as outlined on pages 35-36 of its Environment Effects Monitoring Program (EEMP) within the two-week period that began on July 27, 14 days ago. DFO warns that if the company does not meet that deadline, “DFO will assess and determine the appropriate action.”

Cape Sharp not ready

However, judging by an e-mail Thursday from Stacey Pineau, who speaks for Cape Sharp Tidal, the company is not yet in a position to deploy a monitoring platform 30 metres from the centre of the turbine as required under its monitoring program or EEMP.

Instead, she writes that a team “will execute an interim monitoring plan to ensure environmental monitoring data is recorded.”

Pineau did not respond to a request for details about the interim plan, but photos taken at the testing site on Thursday show placement of a platform on the beach at low tide that when submerged would be hundreds of metres from the turbine.

It’s understood that the FAST-2 platform was being tested Thursday and has since been retrieved to download the data it recorded when submerged to see if its sensors are working properly.

Pineau wrote in her e-mail on Thursday that deployment of the required monitoring platform near the turbine has been hampered because the turbine developer OpenHydro, which holds 80 per cent of Cape Sharp, is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings.

Only days after turbine deployment, OpenHydro’s parent company, Naval Energies of France, asked an Irish court to liquidate the company because of debts amounting to $426 million.

Pineau writes that the firm appointed to liquidate OpenHydro is “working to establish environmental monitoring as soon as possible,” but she adds “there have been unforeseen technical challenges due to the liquidation process.”

How will regulators react?

It remains to be seen whether DFO and Nova Scotia’s departments of environment and energy will continue to allow the turbine blades to turn much longer without the close monitoring the regulators require.

On Thursday, Nova Scotia’s energy minister, Derek Mombourquette, told the Canadian Press news agency that the turbine cannot be allowed to sit on the bottom of the Minas Passage indefinitely.

“This can’t go on forever,” CP quotes him as saying. “They (creditors and remaining partners) have indicated that they are implementing a contingency plan and I’m looking forward to what that plan is going to be.”

In a guarded statement e-mailed to The New Wark Times, the provincial environment department said that regulators will “work together to ensure the environment is properly protected.”

To read the full Cape Sharp EEMP including Appendix D which gives more information about the contingency monitoring plan, click here.

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