A look at the chart

Hydro One director of project delivery Sonny Karunakaran points to an environmental assessment process chart Tuesday at Delta Hotels by Marriott Thunder Bay.

The draft of the environmental assessment for Hydro One’s Waasigan Transmission Line is coming out today.

At the close of North American stock markets today, the public can view the environmental assessment draft on the contentious power line from the Municipality of Shuniah to Dryden and provide feedback until July 7.

Like they did for choosing a preliminary preferred route, the assessment factors in socio-economics, Indigenous culture and values as well as the natural environment, technical and cost.

“As we worked through on that preferred route, we then get out there and we actually try to identify all the impacts and effects associated with that,” said Hydro One director of project delivery Sonny Karunakaran.

“Our purpose behind this project is besides all the great benefits this (project) has, we have to do so in a sustainable way, we have to do so in a way that mitigates the effects and impacts behind this. Our order of precedence behind it is obviously to try to eliminate and avoid the effects. If that’s not possible, we mitigate to the extent possible and we also understand even when we mitigate, there may be some residual impacts that are there.”

The approximately 365-kilometre Waasigan power line will run parallel to the existing power grid with the preliminary preferred route having been selected earlier this year.

The Neighbours on the Line group opposing the transmission line’s route had raised concerns about water shed contamination, electric magnetic radiation exposure and residents losing their homesteads with the latter being resolved when Karunakaran said last month that Hydro One would not purchase any households along the power line unless the owners were willing to sell.

As far as water contamination and radiation exposure are concerned, Karunakaran said they’ve consulted with national and international health agencies and are well within the guidelines of allowable levels.

“As part of the construction phase as well as the operations and maintenance phase for a transmission line, there is some access and clearing works that occur to allow the actual transmission line to be constructed,” Karunakaran said. “During the operations and maintenance of the line we go through what we call vegetation management.

“Vegetation management has a number of different ways of being conducted. There’s a lot of mechanical clearing techniques that are utilized. Part of the options that are available is the use of certain herbicides that would be applied. There are restrictions around where the herbicides could be utilized, but it is one of the options that is part of the overall vegetation management for a line of this nature.

“. . . . With respect to the aspect of the electric magnetic fields . . . . We at Hydro One take guidance from the public health authorities and experts in this field (World Health Organization, Public Health Canada). We make sure that the way we execute our works are compliant with all the standards, requirements and legislation. We build safe infrastructure right across this province.

“The actual levels of exposure that we have from our transmission lines are well within the safety guidelines, in fact in order of magnitude, below the safety guidelines that are identified under those health standards.”

In March, Karunakaran indicated that the transmission line will produce many benefits to the region including economic growth, development, job opportunities, electrical reliability, renewable generation and load growth pertaining to the mining industry.

Hydro One’s time frame to complete the development work on the project is tentatively scheduled for the end of 2024.

The draft of the Waasigan Transmission Line environmental assessment can be found at HydroOne.com/Waasigan after 4 p.m. today. Feedback on the assessment can be sent by email to Community.Relations@HydroOne.com or by phoning 1-877-345-6799 up until July 7.