Energy Regulator orders Trans Mountain to stop tree clearing

An order stopping tree cutting and grass mowing across the entire Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project was issued Thursday by the Canada Energy Regulator, the agency that enforces safety and environmental guidelines for pipeline projects across Canada.

A statement released by the CER said it issued the order to immediately stop all clearing activity “to prevent harm to nesting birds in the pipeline project’s right of way and to ensure Trans Mountain is correcting any issues it has in relation to contractor oversight and management.”

The release added that Trans Mountain must comply with the conditions of the Expansion Project certificate and its relevant obligations under the Canadian Energy Regulator Act and associated regulations.

A statement from Trans Mountain said the regulator’s order was issued after a subcontractor started tree cutting and mowing activities without completing the necessary environmental compliance work.

It said no birds or bird nests were impacted by the clearing work.

It also said all other construction activity will continue across the project.

“Trans Mountain takes its regulatory and environmental obligations very seriously,”‘ says the statement. “We are working with the regulator to ensure and to demonstrate that we have the appropriate communication protocols in place for contractors at all levels.”

The statement did not say how many workers are affected by the stop-work order or how long the shutdown will last for the pipeline project, which spans from just north of Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a stop-work order in April to halt Trans Mountain construction through a Burnaby, B.C., forest to protect hummingbirds and other migratory birds during nesting season.

That order was expected to be in place until mid-August.

The $12.6-billion expansion project will triple the existing pipeline capacity to about 890,000 barrels per day of oil products, including diluted bitumen, lighter crude and refined fuel.

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