Trans Mountain project remains on safety stand down

In addition to an Oct. 27 death in Edmonton and a Dec. 15 serious injury in Burnaby, there have been 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19 along the construction route, with 12 of those cases being active as of Dec. 28.

When the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project shut down earlier than planned over the Christmas season — on Dec. 18 — the Crown corporation said it would resume work on Jan. 4.

However, sites in Kamloops and all along the route from Edmonton to Burnaby remain idle.

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A Trans Mountain spokesperson told KTW the project-wide safety stand down remains in place.

“We are in the final stages of our restart planning and anticipate that we will be providing further details on restart dates in the coming days,” the spokesperson said on Jan. 7.

When announcing a halt to work in December, Trans Mountain CEO Ian Anderson cited safety issues. On Dec. 15, a contractor was seriously injured in an incident at the Burnaby terminal, where the 1,150-kilometre pipeline ends. On Oct. 27, a worker was killed at a Trans Mountain site outside Edmonton.

“Over the past two months, we have seen safety incidents at our worksites that are unacceptable to Trans Mountain. This is inconsistent with Trans Mountain’s proud safety culture,” Anderson said at the time. He did not specify which safety incidents he was referencing.

In addition to the death and injury, there have been 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19 along the construction route, with 12 of those cases being active as of Dec. 28.

Trans Mountain did not have data for the number of cases in the portion of the project being constructed through Kamloops (known as Spread 5A, or the B.C. Interior portion, which runs from Black Pines to the Coquihalla summit). The Kamloops work involves crews above Westsyde, Batchelor Heights and Brocklehust, at Kamloops Airport and across the river on Mission Flats and up the hillside in Kenna Cartright Park.

Trans Mountain has published a COVID-19 Preparedness, Planning & Response report on its website. The next version will be published later in January. 

Meanwhile, the Trans Mountain spokesperson said new contractors for the Greater Edmonton portion and part of the North Thompson portion of the project will be confirmed in the coming weeks. On those portions, the Crown corporation terminated its contract with SA Energy, which remains contractor for the Fraser Valley part of the project. Work there has not yet begun as that portion remains in route hearings as part of the regulatory process. 

As of the end of 2020, about 20 per cent of the pipeline expansion project had been completed, with 2021 expected to be the peak construction period, with thousands of people working in hundreds of sites across Alberta and British Columbia.

The federal government bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in August 2018 and the expansion project is expected to cost $12.6 billion. Once completed, the pipeline route’s capacity will triple, being able to carry 890,000 barrels of crude and refined oil per day from the current volume of 300,000 barrels per day.

The pipeline has oil receipt points at Edmonton, Alberta and Kamloops. At Kamloops, it also delivers products. At the Sumas delivery point, the Trans Mountain Pipeline connects with the Puget Sound Pipeline, owned by Trans Mountain Pipeline (Puget Sound) LLC, which delivers oil to four refineries on the west coast of Washington state. At the Burnaby Terminal, connecting pipelines enable deliveries of crude oil and refined petroleum products to Parkland’s Burnaby Refinery and to Suncor’s Burrard refined products marketing terminal.


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