• CER issued order to Trans Mountain on Jan 31, 2024 related to flooding from heavy rain
  • Order requires Trans Mountain to fix environmental issues, investigate cause, submit plan and commit to implementation
  • Trans Mountain says it is committed to environmental protection and safety
What Happened

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) issued an Inspection Officer Order to Trans Mountain on January 31, 2024 for environmental non-compliances near Abbotsford, BC. The order was issued after an inspection of the pipeline expansion project in response to recent flooding.

The inspection found multiple environmental deficiencies. These included:

  • A landslide of saturated soil from a high road location onto a lower travel lane.
  • Erosion and sediment control measures in need of amendment.
  • Wildlife exclusion fencing in need of maintenance at multiple locations.
  • Poly sheeting covering exposed soils in need of maintenance and saturated soils slumping at multiple locations.
  • Dewatering pump and sump locations in need of maintenance and repair.

The CER ordered Trans Mountain to:

  • Address environmental deficiencies and non-compliances from recent rain events.
  • Investigate the root cause of non-compliances and why contingency measures were not enacted in a timely matter.
  • Submit the investigation to the CER for review.
  • Develop and implement a water management resourcing plan for Spread 6.
  • Submit a commitment that all required plans will be implemented as described.

The CER said it will follow up with the company to ensure it complies with the order. The order will be lifted when the company meets the requirements.

For more information on the order and its details, you can view the order on the CER website.

History of Non-Compliance

This is not the first time Trans Mountain has been cited for environmental non-compliance.

In October 2023, the CER issued a temporary stop-work order for a wetland area near Abbotsford, BC due to environmental non-compliance related to a wetland near Abbotsford, British Columbia. Specifically, insufficient fencing to protect amphibians and unapproved vegetation clearing. The stop-work order was lifted in November 2023 after Trans Mountain fixed the issues and submitted corrective action plans to the CER.

In April 2021, Trans Mountain received an order to halt operations through a Burnaby, B.C., forest to protect Anna’s hummingbirds and other migratory birds during nesting season. This order was in place until mid-August. The order was issued after conservation officers observed the company felling a tree with an active hummingbird nest in it.

Trans Mountain has also faced other challenges and delays in completing its pipeline expansion project. The project has been opposed by some groups who have raised concerns about its impacts on climate change, water quality, marine life, and Indigenous rights.

The project has also encountered technical difficulties due to hard rock, challenging terrain, and water ingress along some sections of the pipeline route. The latest estimated cost of the project is $30.9 billion, up from a 2017 estimate of $7.4 billion.

The project is currently more than 98% complete, according to Trans Mountain’s website. The company expects to finish construction by late 2024 or early 2025.

Trans Mountain & Canada Energy Regulator

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is Canada’s only oil pipeline to the West Coast. It is designed to increase Canada’s access to global markets for its oil resources, especially in Asia. The expansion project is also expected to create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic benefits for Canada.

However, the project also poses significant environmental risks and challenges. The pipeline crosses hundreds of watercourses, wetlands, and wildlife habitats that could be affected by spills or construction activities. The pipeline will also result in an increase in the number of oil tankers travelling through sensitive marine areas that are home to endangered species such as orcas.

The CER is responsible for overseeing and regulating the project to ensure it meets the highest standards of safety and environmental protection. The CER conducts inspections, audits, investigations and enforcement actions to monitor and verify the company’s compliance with the conditions and requirements of the project’s approval.

The CER also engages with groups, landowners, stakeholders and the public to address their concerns and provide information on the project’s status and impacts.

Career Opportunities

If you are interested in working in the energy sector, Trans Mountain offers various career opportunities for people with different skills and backgrounds. You can find out more about the current openings and how to apply on Trans Mountain’s website.

The CER also offers career opportunities for people who want to work in energy regulation. You can find out more about the current openings and how to apply on the CER website.

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