As everyone who lives in BC’s Lower Mainland knows, year-round rainfall is high and steady. Our Burnaby Terminal receives on average 1,500 millimetres of rain per year – which would fill more than 340 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This amount of annual rainfall poses unique circumstances for environmental protection and water management, with many factors to consider such as stormwater management, flood prevention and watercourse monitoring.

Burnaby Terminal’s Lead Environmental Inspector, Ian Levitt, is responsible for the environmental monitoring on-site during construction. 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. We asked him to share some key parts of the plans and efforts related to work at Burnaby Terminal.

Prior to construction of the Expansion Project, Burnaby Terminal contained 13 storage tanks with one tank removed this past year to prepare for construction. Once the Expansion Project is complete, the terminal will house a total of 26 tanks.

In preparation for construction, Trans Mountain diverted a number of watercourses upstream of the terminal that flow into the Stoney, Eagle and Silver Creek waterways below or downstream of the terminal property. To protect water quality, these diversions were put in place to isolate and protect the streams from construction activities. Trans Mountain holds permits from the Oil and Gas Commission under Section 11 (Changes In and About a Stream) of the Water Sustainability Act for the redirection of watercourses during Project construction. Diversion or relocation of watercourses and drainages and culverts at Burnaby Terminal is required because of engineering requirements to accommodate the addition of new tanks within the constraints of the existing facility. Instream flow is maintained during and following construction by diverting water through and from the terminal site to existing downstream connections in the Eagle Creek and Silver Creek watersheds. This will allow all watercourses to continue to flow clean during construction until they can be re-aligned into their newly-built culverts. Trans Mountain recognizes the importance of these streams and has a long-standing relationship with local streamkeeper groups, who successfully nurture the water quality and fish species in the area.

The diversions are only part of ensuring the water at the terminal is managed according to our environmental plans. The water on-site is monitored, managed and cleaned 24/7 with water treatment, erosion and sediment controls, water pumps, constructed drainages and settling areas. As construction continues, areas are paved and tanks are constructed, and additional mitigation measures will be implemented to protect the waterways flowing through Burnaby Terminal. This will include newly-constructed culverts, revegetetation programs and reclamation activites.

As wind and waterfall can cause soil erosion during construction, a proactive Erosion and Sediment Control Plan has also been developed and approved by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. When it comes to erosion, prevention is key. Measures are in place to control erosion and prevent the soil from entering downstream watercourses. This includes the use of erosion control methods such as “poly” (polypropylene) sheet coverings on slopes, coco-matting, hydroseed and silt fence. Sediment control measures include on-site water treatment and one newly-constructed intermediate stormwater retention pond (ISWRP).

The ISWRP will allow heavy surges of rainfall during torrential storm flows to be collected, settled out and treated prior to discharge into the surrounding tributaries. This will also help protect more naturalized settling areas from heavy erosion that could result from rapid runoff from Burnaby Terminal. Protecting the integrity of the terminal and the surrounding environment are top priorities. Trans Mountain is committed to preparing for a variety of potential storm and flood hazards to mitigate, prevent and, if necessary, respond.

Trans Mountain’s Facilities Environmental Protection Plan for Burnaby Terminal outlines our environmental procedures and mitigation measures. All construction activities at Burnaby Terminal follow the mitigation measures outlined in the Facilities Environmental Protection Plan approved by the Canada Energy Regulator under Condition 78. These include pre-construction environmental resource protection; the prevention of construction-related materials or debris from entering watercourses; and the installation of erosion and sediment control measures to prevent surface water from entering natural drainage systems, watercourses or wetlands.

To learn more about how Trans Mountain will work to minimize the impacts of construction, click here.