The B.C. Environmental Appeal Board has ruled the province failed to properly consult the Fort Nelson First Nations and employ adequate scientific modelling when it approved a long-term water withdrawal licence for Nexen Inc., a company with fracked gas operations in the Horn River Basin.
The board ordered the cancellation of the water licence, effectively immediately. The permit granted Nexen permission to withdraw up to 2.5 million cubic metres of water annually from North Tsea Lake, located within traditional Fort Nelson First Nation territory, until 2017.
The First Nation considers the ruling a significant victory over both Nexen and the B.C. government.
“Granting this licence was a major mistake by the province,” Fort Nelson First Nation Chief Liz Logan said, adding “our members have always used the Tsea Lake area in our territory to hunt, trap, and live on the land.”
Logan said Nexen withdrew water from Tsea Lake at ecologically damaging times.
“The company pumped water out of the lake, even during drought conditions,” she said. “There were major impacts on the lake, fish, beavers and surrounding environment.”