At Trans Mountain, we value the environment. Every employee and contractor working on our behalf is committed to our goal of protecting the environment and promoting best practices. The Trans Mountain Expansion Project has taken the initiative to develop an industry-leading Environmental Protection Rules Program, which is the first of its kind and further demonstrates the Project’s commitment to the environment. These eight Environmental Protection Rules (EPRs) have been communicated to everyone who works on the Expansion Project.

Sean Britt, Director of Environment for the Expansion Project, and creator of the Environmental Protection Rules and Program has been leading the program launch events with the goal of having the rules at the forefront of peoples’ minds in their daily work. We spoke with him to get an update on the program and see how the EPRs have been helping Trans Mountain deliver on our commitment to leave our environment in the same or better condition as it was prior to construction of the Expansion Project.

How has the launch of the new Environmental Protection Rules been received so far?

The program has been extremely well received by both contractors and TMEP personnel. Every contractor we have approached has been very supportive, whether through distributing a company-wide survey or coordinating a kick-off for hundreds of their personnel (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). It’s been quite amazing to see the response first-hand. Many folks came up to me after the kick-offs to share their feelings about the environment and how important it is for our industry and projects today. The individual launch gatherings have certainly been some of my most memorable moments of the Project.

February 2020 EPR launch event in Edmonton

Have you noticed an impact in environmental performance as a result of the EPRs?

We are still analyzing compliance data for the Project to see what type of impact the program is having. One thing I can say for sure, both through first-hand experience during site visits and through feedback from the field, is that the culture of environmental awareness is growing. Throughout the EPR launches and all our environmental work, we highlight the thousands of commitments and conditions we have made to communities, stakeholders and regulators. We speak of these as promises made and promises we have to keep to show our commitment to doing the right thing. People connect to this. That is what the program is about.

Another big contribution to the growing culture of environmental awareness is the recognition program that is connected to the Environmental Protection Rules. Our Environmental Inspectors, along with Construction Management, reward individuals’ leadership in our commitment to the environment during the course of work through spot and quarterly awards. This recognition, along with potential disciplinary consequences of breaking the rules, demonstrate to everyone that not only do we take this seriously, we really appreciate when people step up and lead by example.

What are the spot and quarterly awards?

Spot and quarterly awards are the recognition element of our Environmental Protection Rules Program. Spot awards are small tokens of appreciation like a coffee gift card, a Trans Mountain-branded toque, ball cap or cell phone charger. These are used to provide immediate recognition to individuals in the field. I recall the first one I gave out was in recognition of a general labourer who was going along picking up every little piece of trash along the right-of-way right after some pipe was lowered in. It wasn’t the fact that she was doing her job, it was the way she was doing it. She was going out of her way to look at every nook and cranny, behind little soil piles, picking up everything from a piece of large plastic to tiny zip ties. She was doing it with purpose and intent. She cared.

Quarterly awards are more substantial awards given to individuals who demonstrate sustained leadership in the field when it comes to the environment. They have to be nominated by members of the team. We announce the recipients and present them with a Trans Mountain jacket at our Quarterly Environmental Summits, which are attended by Project leadership from TMEP and our General Construction Contractors.

For 2020, we awarded more than 500 spot awards and over 40 quarterly awards.