A group of local conservationists recently got a close-up look at Trans Mountain's plans for protecting the quality of waterways running through Burnaby Terminal.

Streamkeepers for Stoney, Eagle and Silver creeks participated in a walking tour of Burnaby Terminal property to learn about plans to mitigate impacts of construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP).

The tour was led by Ian Levitt, Lead Environmental Inspector for the Burnaby Terminal. Levitt has a background in land reclamation and resource management, with a Master’s degree in resource and environmental management and designations as a Registered Professional Biologist and a Professional Agrologist in Alberta and BC.

The terminal’s location on the south-facing slope of Burnaby Mountain includes small tributaries that eventually lead to salmon-bearing creeks — Eagle and Silver — which begin above and terminate below Trans Mountain property, as well as numerous other drainages.

“There are no fish-bearing waters on site at the Burnaby Terminal,” Levitt explained. “For example, a tributary to Eagle Creek runs through the property and on to the main stem of the creek off property.” 

Trans Mountain is taking extensive measures to minimize the risk of sedimentation in the tributaries and other drainages, Levitt said. He added that in addition to Trans Mountain’s own commitment to protecting water resources on its property, the company is regulated by several regulatory agencies such as the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canada Energy Regulator.

“The premise for the tour was to give community members who have a deep care and concern about local drainages and waterways an inside look at what we are doing to respect their concerns, in the context of our regulatory approvals,” Levitt said.

All these waterways are “managed onsite on a daily basis” in respect of any terminal-related activity or weather-related events that could cause them to become turbid, Levitt explained.

The first step in Trans Mountain’s strategy is prevention — diverting clean water around work areas to prevent it from becoming dirty in the first place. Trans Mountain also has extensive plans for “ESC”, which is construction industry lingo for Erosion and Sediment Control. This includes proactive use of erosion control measures such as “poly” (polypropylene) sheet coverings on slopes, coco-matting, hydroseed and silt fence. Sediment control measures include onsite water treatment and two newly constructed intermediate stormwater retention ponds (ISWRP) which allow sediment to settle out of the water before it’s released from the terminal.

"The outlet of the tertiary containment area in the southwest corner is also regulated by Provincial authorities and continually monitored. We don’t release anything out of our facility unless it meets the parameters under our waste discharge permit that’s issued by the province,” Levitt noted.

The creek tributaries, which are already subject to partial culverting as they are directed down across the terminal, are receiving additional protections.

“One of the main priorities is preserving water quality. During construction of the tank storage facility, we are protecting water as it passes from the north to the south end. So, the design we’re planning, is to keep the water in these tributaries clean from the time it enters the facility to the time it leaves the facility.

“We’re extending the culverts of the existing tributaries that flow through the property to the perimeter of the terminal fence line so in the unlikely event of a spill or some kind of incident onsite we can further protect the waterways because they are isolated from the work areas inside the culverts.”

“Another aspect the streamkeepers appreciated was the continuous turbidity monitors we have on the outlet of our Tertiary Containment Area and the Eagle Creek tributary flowing through our property. We are installing an additional monitor where the Eagle Creek tributary enters our site, to better understand the baseline water quality and ensure our works do not impact the tributary.”

Here are some comments from streamkeepers who participated in the tour:

  • Nick Kvenich, Eagle Creek — As streamkeepers, we are the stewards for all living wildlife in and around Eagle Creek.  It is a title and role in our community that we are committed to, by enhancing the environment and wildlife habitat. We welcome an open line of communication with Trans Mountain and all stakeholders who impact the well-being of Eagle Creek.
  • Ed von Euw, Silver Creek — It was fascinating to visit the Burnaby Terminal and see first-hand the environmental protection measures that they have implemented to ensure the safety of the site, streams and its workers. As an engineer by day and the primary streamkeeper for Silver Creek in my spare time, I appreciate the work that Trans Mountain has done on-site to protect downstream habitat during construction of the expansion project.
  • John Templeton, Stoney Creek — As an adjacent neighbour of Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal, I appreciate the time and attention the company’s team places on grassroots community engagement. The recent tour with environmental experts demonstrates that Trans Mountain is doing a better job managing the streams than Mother Nature itself.