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Pipeline work on track

The pipeline reactivation work through Jasper National Park is proceeding on schedule, as seen in this photo taken at Snaring River. | Supplied photo

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

The Trans Mountain pipeline project continues to push ahead on schedule through Jasper National Park.

Residents can expect work to wrap up before autumn, said representatives from Kinder Morgan during a presentation to Jasper Municipal Council on July 5. 

Their figures show that the reactivation of two segments of the pipeline – including Hinton to Hargreaves, B.C. – was at 79 per cent completion as of June 11, more than a month ago.

“The anchor loop was completed and there was twinning in 2008,” said Kent Taylor, community liaison for Trans Mountain Pipeline in Alberta.

“We’re currently working on reactivating the inactive segment of the pipeline from Hinton to Hargreaves. What that entails is technical digs and the natural hazard remediation program.”

That work includes repairing defects and recoating or replacing specific locations of the pipeline.

“What is a forecasted completion date where the activities in Jasper National Park will be completed, other than probably soil and weed mitigation and ongoing tending to the pipeline right of way?” Coun. Ralph Melnyk asked.

Taylor responded that there were a few factors to consider. One is the hydrostatic pressure test scheduled to occur over the course of four days in late summer. The line will only pass if it holds at 25 per cent above its intended maximum operating pressure, according to information provided by a Trans Mountain spokesperson. 

“We’re anticipating a positive outcome of that, but if there’s any action items that come from that, then our schedule will be managed based on that,” Taylor said.

“But what we’re expecting (is) once the hydrotest does get completed later in the summer, then some of our resources will decrease… It will focus more on cleanup and veg management after that and then the maintenance of the pipeline.”

That test will mean closures of the dog park and some trails, along with some traffic control measures. There may also be some noise as the test involves pressurizing the line with water and air, but most of that should be closer to the Hinton pump station where the release point is.

Mayor Richard Ireland asked about worker housing in the townsite, noting that many of the approximately 200 workers have moved out of local accommodations. 

“I’m interested in… potential draw down over the coming months as the work starts to wind up,” he said.

Taylor couldn’t provide exact figures but did indicate that workers with in-town accommodations have indeed decreased. The reactivation effort is still at full steam with recent rain causing some delays.

“Obviously, we’re hoping to complete the work before the weather changes.”

Ireland ended by emphasizing his appreciation for Trans Mountain’s level of community involvement with the presentation and the business boost to local business owners.

“To make no mistake about it, there are many in town who also very much appreciate the economic activity that you’ve brought to them in particular.”

The update was offered to keep council in the loop on the project’s progress, though Ireland indicated he personally gets regular electronic updates. 

In an email to the Fitzhugh, Parks Canada indicated that it provides “regulatory oversight and environmental surveillance of the reactivation work and Trans Mountain’s ongoing operation and maintenance of both pipelines to ensure mitigation or avoidance of possible impacts to environmental and cultural resources.”

A full-time environmental surveillance officer is dedicated to this work, and resource conservation staff respond to other potential impacts as they arise. They liaise daily with Trans Mountain workers with whom they have a good working relationship.

The Canada Energy Regulator also ensures compliance with safety standards and environmental requirements, Parks Canada added.

In a phone interview with the Fitzhugh, Mayor Ireland indicated that council doesn’t have the authority to bring up environmental concerns regarding the pipeline. For one thing, he said, the pipeline may skim the borders but won’t actually go through town.

“Even if they’re doing work right by the off-leash area, that is outside the town boundary. Of course, it has impacts and implications for the town, but we don’t have to issue any permits for anything that they do,” he said.

“We take the position that even within the town proper, Parks Canada still has jurisdiction over the environment. That is the role of Parks Canada, and we’re comfortable that when it comes to environmental issues—because Trans Mountain has to deal with Parks Canada—environmental issues are going to be addressed at that level.”

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