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Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC Detailed Route Hearing MH-013-2020 – Rudolf and Debra Enns and City of Chilliwack

Link to Decision Summarized

Pipelines – Detailed Route Hearings


Background

The background of this proceeding is set out in this newsletter in Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC Detailed Route Hearing MH-010-2020 – Chilliwack School District, District Parent Advisory Council, and City of Chilliwack.

Detailed Route Hearing MH-013-2020

In September 2019, Mr. and Mrs. Enns filed a statement of opposition (“SOO”) seeking to resume their 2017/2018 detailed route hearing, and Chilliwack filed SOOs seeking to resume its 2017/2018 detailed route hearing. An SOO from an Indigenous group was submitted and withdrawn.

On 31 January 2020, the CER issued a Procedural Direction explaining that there are a number of instances where the geographical focus of one detailed route hearing overlaps with that of one or more other hearings. This Detailed Route Hearing MH-013-2020 relates to Tract 2410 only, which is in Segment 6.4 (the “Lands”). All other tracts of land in Segments 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4 are the subject of other detailed route hearings. These five hearings are referred to collectively as the “Chilliwack-Area Hearings.”

Overview of the Proposed Route on the Lands

Rudolf and Debra Enns are the registered owners of the Lands. The figure below shows Trans Mountain’s proposed route (in red), Chilliwack’s alternative routes (in dark blue), Mr. and Mrs. Enns’ alternate routes (in purple), and other features in the area of the Lands. Mr. and Mrs. Enns proposed two alternate routes in the Chilliwack area, which are described as follows: (i) a route overlapping with alternate routes proposed in other detailed route hearings (Chilliwack/WaterWealth Alignment); and (ii) a shorter route proposing a new crossing of certain environmental features (Keith Wilson Road Alignment).


Is Trans Mountain’s Proposed Route the Best Possible Detailed Route?

The CER acknowledged Mr. and Mrs. Enns’ concern about the implications of a shallow water table on the Lands where the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (“TMEP”) and a new valve would be located. The CER noted that Trans Mountain selected the proposed TMEP valve for the site conditions, as required in CSA Z662 Clause 4.4.9. The CER was of the view that, with the valve design and proposed construction methods and mitigation, Trans Mountain has taken sufficient measures to address the implications of a shallow water table. Further, the CER was satisfied that Trans Mountain’s Groundwater Management Plan provides appropriate measures to mitigate construction through areas with shallow groundwater.

The CER acknowledged that the potential for a spill on the Lands exists, although it found it unlikely. In the event a spill does occur on the Lands, there could be impacts on the adjacent Browne Creek Wetlands. The CER noted that the potential effects of spills or leaks were extensively examined during the Certificate Hearings and resulted in numerous commitments and conditions related to pipeline integrity, leak detection, and spill response. Of particular note, Trans Mountain’s pipeline environmental protection plan (“EPP”) contains mitigation measures to prevent deleterious substances from entering wetlands during construction.

The proposed route does not cross the Yarrow Waterworks wells, which are located approximately one kilometer from the route. Nevertheless, the CER accepted that spills or leaks from a pipeline can have broad impacts downstream or downgradient. The potential effects of spills or leaks were extensively examined during the Certificate Hearings, which resulted in numerous commitments and conditions regarding pipeline integrity, leak detection, and spill response.

The CER was of the view that Trans Mountain appropriately applied its routing criteria in a flexible manner in this case. Trans Mountain’s Original Corridor applied the second general criterion (routing alongside an existing RoW), as Trans Mountain was attempting to avoid the site-specific densely populated area associated with the first general criterion (routing alongside the existing TMPL). However, when even more substantial site-specific engineering challenges with the Original Corridor came to light, circumstances changed, and Trans Mountain considered that the next-best option was to apply the first criterion.

The CER noted that Trans Mountain had the onus to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that its proposed route is the best possible detailed route and that its proposed methods and timing of construction are the most appropriate. The CER was of the view that Trans Mountain undertook sufficient technical analyses with respect to Mr. and Mrs. Enns’ alternate routes to meet this burden.

The CER concluded that Mr. and Mrs. Enns’s alternate routes were not viable alternates because one of the suggested alignments was not technically feasible, and another suggested alignment was inferior due to the environmental impacts at the Vedder River crossing. While Mr. and Mrs. Enns’ alternate routes no longer intersected the Lands, thereby avoiding the potential impacts on the Browne Creek Wetlands from a spill on the Lands, the CER was of the view that the mitigation measures proposed by Trans Mountain would appropriately minimize both the potential for a spill to occur and the potential effects to the wetlands in the event of a spill on the Lands. This advantage of Mr. and Mrs. Enns’s alternate routes was therefore outweighed in these circumstances.

Are Trans Mountain’s Proposed Methods of Constructing the Pipeline the Most Appropriate?

The CER noted that Trans Mountain proposes to construct the TMEP on the Lands using a conventional open-trench construction methodology. It proposes crossing the Vedder River by way of a Direct Pipe installation with the entry point located in the Browne Creek Wetlands. The Browne Creek Wetlands are located adjacent to both the Lands and the Vedder River. In order to access the Direct Pipe entry point, Trans Mountain requires temporary access through the Lands.

The CER accepted Trans Mountain’s submissions that the pipeline will be installed in low-hydraulic-conductivity sediments that will provide a natural protective barrier between the pipeline and the underlying aquifer. It was of the view that open-trench construction and installing the pipeline to a depth of 1.2 meters below ground level, which meets the requirements of CSA Z662, is appropriate.

Trans Mountain committed to scheduling construction activities within the Browne Creek Wetlands during dry or very-low-flow conditions to reduce impacts on the wetlands. With commitments and Certificate conditions, the CER found that the methods of constructing the pipeline are the most appropriate.

Is Trans Mountain’s Proposed Timing of Constructing the Pipeline the Most Appropriate?

The CER found that Trans Mountain’s proposed timing of constructing the pipeline on the Lands is the most appropriate. The Commission is of the view, through various mitigation strategies, including the schedule for construction activities on the Lands, Trans Mountain has appropriately addressed the concerns raised by Mr. and Mrs. Enns.

Conclusion

The CER decided that Trans Mountain’s proposed route is the best possible detailed route on the Lands, and the proposed methods and timing of constructing the pipeline are the most appropriate, subject to the commitments made by Trans Mountain and ongoing compliance with the Certificate OC-065 conditions.

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