The largest private-sector infrastructure project in Canadian history has encountered a new hurdle.
It came when the Canada Border Services Agency blocked a shipment of steel pilings at the Port of Kitimat.
LNG Canada was hoping to receive them. It's part of a group of companies involved in a $40-billion megaproject that includes a liquefied-natural-gas plant, export terminal, and associated pipeline infrastructure.
The steel pilings arrived on a Chinese-registered freighter—the Cosco Da JI—whose crew had no work permits and no security clearances, according to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada.
Earlier, the ILWU notified the Canada Border Services Agency about the situation.
The union has maintained that there was no "Labour Market Impact Assessment", which is required for foreign workers in Canada.
Moreover, the union claimed that the crew, believed to be from China, had no safety training for the port.
“This is an outrageous attempt to flagrantly violate several laws and regulations that not only protect Canadian jobs but our security and the safety of all workers at the port,” ILWU president Rob Ashton alleged in a news release. “We thank the CBSA for moving to block any unloading of the DA JI illegally.”
Meanwhile, the United Steelworkers union has been complaining for years about China dumping steel products in Canada.
The USW's concerns led to a preliminary inquiry earlier this year by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.
In October, the CITT renewed an existing order against China, Turkey, and South Korea dumping steel products in Canada at below-market rates.
“The decision reflects evidence provided by our members in hearings before the CITT earlier this year,” USW national director Ken Neumann said in an October 16 news release. “It reinforces our campaign for full standing in launching trade cases. Our union and its members play an essential role in determining the impact of unfair trade. The CITT has recognized that in this written decision.”
The LNG Canada plant has faced other hurdles, including persistently low prices for liquefied-natural gas in Asia. In addition, the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which will transport gas to the plant, was the subject of numerous protests by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their allies.
Update: Offloading resumed later in the day
LNG Canada issued the following statement:
"On November 7, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) requested that JGC Fluor (JFJV), LNG Canada’s engineering procurement and construction contractor, temporarily suspend the offloading of materials from a marine vessel at the LNG Canada Project site. The offloading operations resumed the same day.
"The offloading activities were expected to conclude yesterday (Friday, November 13) and the vessel is expected to leave port today."