The Trans Mountain Expansion Project has developed plans covering a wide range of environmental requirements that must be implemented before, during and after construction along the pipeline right-of-way, facilities and related access areas.

Environmental protection plans (EPPs) are among 157 conditions required by the National Energy Board. Trans Mountain is also subject to 37 conditions attached to the BC Environmental Assessment Office Certificate received from the British Columbia government following BC approval of the Project in January 2017. In addition, Trans Mountain must comply with permits obtained from government agencies. 

Trans Mountain, its contractors and sub-contractors will carry out extensive mitigation measures. EPPs detail the actions required to ensure protection of land, plants, wildlife, fish and the marine environment in all phases of the Project.

EPPs also cover community impacts such as traffic, noise, air quality and the socio-economic effects of our Project workforce, particularly in smaller communities along the construction footprint. Where there is a potential environmental impact, Trans Mountain’s goal is to ensure the land is returned to its original function or to mitigate impacts.

Here are some examples.

NEB Condition 72 — The Pipeline Environmental Protection Plan filed in June 2017 is a comprehensive compilation of all environmental protection procedures, mitigation measures and monitoring commitments related to pipeline construction. It has been developed to communicate environmental procedures and measures to the Project pipeline construction and inspection personnel in a clear and concise format. Its objective is to avoid or reduce potential adverse environmental effects from construction, including pre- and post-construction phases.

The Pipeline EPP lists 135 general pipeline construction mitigation measures, covering categories such as spill prevention, air quality, rare plants, construction traffic, extreme weather, noise and heritage resources. These general mitigation measures will be implemented, as warranted, by Trans Mountain, its contractors and sub-contractors prior to and during construction, and will be followed for each construction phase of the pipeline and access roads.

In addition to general construction, mitigation measures are required for activities including:

  • Notification of interested parties (33 mitigation measures listed in the Pipeline EPP)
  • Pre-construction activities (25 mitigation measures)
  • Survey and clearing work (88 mitigation measures)
  • Use and development of access roads (61 mitigation measures)
  • Topsoil and root zone material handling and grading (62 mitigation measures)
  • Pipeline installation including stringing, welding, trenching and lowering-in (53 mitigation measures)
  • Backfilling (34 mitigation measures)
  • Construction cleanup and reclamation (109 mitigation measures)
  • Water crossings (139 mitigation measures)
  • Hydrostatic testing of the pipeline (42 mitigation measures)

Trans Mountain is using environmental inspectors along the footprint for the pipeline and for facility construction sites. Environmental inspectors consult with construction managers or their designates and with Trans Mountain to assess potential impacts, monitor construction activity and approve mitigation measures. For example, an environmental inspector would provide guidance and approve plans about reducing or avoiding land clearing in the vicinity of a sensitive environmental feature.

Trans Mountain has more than 60 environmental protection and management plans relating to specific aspects of construction. There’s an EPP to guide construction for the Burnaby Mountain Tunnel project, an agriculture management plan for minimizing construction impacts to farms and ranches and several management plans have been developed providing mitigation measures relating to wildlife listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of the Species At Risk Act (SARA).

For example, there’s an Oregon Forestsnail Mitigation and Habitat Restoration Plan that identifies four areas of Oregon forestsnail final critical habitat in the Fraser Valley. Mitigation measures include consideration of scheduling construction activities to avoid periods when Oregon forestsnail are buried under surface cover objects and within soil, salvage of individual forestsnails prior to clearing, retention and replacement of coarse woody debris and implementation of habitat restoration measures.

There’s a mitigation and habitat restoration plan for the Western rattlesnake and the Great Basin gophersnake near Kamloops. Both species are SARA-listed as threatened. Planned construction mitigation include consideration of scheduling activities to avoid important periods for snakes to the extent practical, using minimum ground disturbance construction techniques, reconfiguring temporary workspace to minimize effects as well as retention and replacement of habitat features.

Post-construction environmental monitoring is a key aspect of environmental plans. As well, there’s an ecosystem-based reclamation management plan outlining general reclamation measures applicable to all lands disturbed by the TMEP construction footprint.

The plan provides mitigation measures pertaining to pre-construction and construction activities that can affect reclamation once construction is complete. It also provides reclamation measures pertaining to natural regeneration; seed mixes and fertilizer; cover crops; seed application techniques; native plant material procurement; bio-stabilization and erosion control.

Once reclamation is complete, the land is monitored for a minimum of five years. If the land hasn’t recovered — for example, if native plants or shrubs are struggling to re-establish themselves — Trans Mountain will amend the area as needed and reseed or replant to ensure vegetation establishment is successful.