This month we mark the 10-year anniversary of the start of construction of Trans Mountain’s Anchor Loop Project, which began in August 2007 in Jasper, Alberta. As we approach the start of construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP) this September, we thought it was a good time to look back at the Anchor Loop Project and reflect on what we learned and the long-term legacies that were delivered through the project.

We asked our Senior Project Director, Greg Toth, who was the Project Director for the Anchor Loop Project and who is leading the TMEP, about his experience in pipeline construction, then and now. 

Why was the Anchor Loop Project needed in 2007 and how does it fit into the Trans Mountain Pipeline System?

In 2007, we began construction to expand a portion of the pipeline system by adding a 160-km section of pipe, 60 per cent of which paralleled the existing 24-inch line between Hinton, Alberta and Hargreaves, BC, through Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park. Much like today, this system modification was needed to accommodate changing markets and customer needs. The addition eliminated capacity constraints by installing a larger 36-inch diameter pipe which is in operation today. The Anchor Loop Project, completed in 2008, will connect to the 987 kilometres of new pipeline of the Expansion Project, which we will begin constructing in September.

How did the Anchor Loop Project get approved through a National and Provincial Park?

Similar to how the TMEP has undertaken years of engagement before any work begins, the Anchor Loop Project planning began a few years before construction too. Together with the community, Aboriginal groups, the National Energy Board (NEB), Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Health Canada,  B.C. Ministry of Environment, B.C. Parks and other provincial agencies, the Project was discussed and subject to an extensive regulatory review over the course of three years. The NEB worked with other federal and provincial authorities, including Parks Canada and B.C. Parks, to create a coordinated environmental screening process that met the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEA Act). The Anchor Loop Project was approved on November 23, 2006 and the following year we broke ground in Jasper, AB.

What was done to protect the environment during construction of the Anchor Loop?

Our team was dedicated to protecting the environment at every step during construction to minimize impact on local ecosystems and critical wildlife habitats. We undertook a comprehensive environmental assessment and the results of these extensive studies guided the development of our Environmental Protection Plan (EPP) and Restoration Plan for construction. The EPP outlined specific protection measures to minimize impacts to environmental, socio-economic and cultural resources.

The Anchor Loop Project earned an Emerald Award recognizing environmental leadership and excellence. We recognized the uniqueness and the environmental sensitivity of Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park, and our rigorous environmental assessment and management processes ensured we met or exceeded all environmental requirements and commitments. We are proud we pioneered innovative environmental solutions in mitigating the effects of the pipeline construction, and that many of the practices developed have been adapted in the standards applied to current pipeline projects.

Why do you think Trans Mountain’s experience with the Anchor Loop Project will help with construction of the Expansion Project 10 years later?

The experience of constructing a pipeline in environmentally sensitive areas and restoration of the land demonstrates our ability and confidence to responsibly expand the pipeline system once again. Once the Anchor Loop was commissioned, we returned the land to the way it was, and in some specific areas to a better condition. Similarly, when TMEP is completed, our detailed reclamation and mitigation processes will help ensure the successful restoration of the areas impacted by construction. The success of Anchor Loop was a collaborative effort between many experts and professionals who shared the same core value of protecting the environment, many of them who are also part of the TMEP team. When we begin pipeline construction this fall, our proven experience in meeting environmental and regulatory requirements with excellence in the past is something we will carry forward with us on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.