Trans Mountain Pauses Pipeline Expansion Construction After Worker Seriously Injured

December 18, 2020 Updated: December 19, 2020

Trans Mountain said it will suspend all pipeline expansion construction until January, a day after a worker suffered a serious injury at the Burnaby Terminal in British Columbia.

Trans Mountain said its has voluntarily enacted a “project-wide safety stand down” that will put off the entire expansion work starting from Dec. 18, 2020 to Jan. 4, 2021.

“Over the past two months, we have seen safety incidents at our worksites that are unacceptable to Trans Mountain,” Ian Anderson, president and CEO of the pipeline, said in a Dec. 17 statement.

On Dec. 15, a contractor worker was seriously injured at the Burnaby Terminal. Trans Mountain said the employee is in the hospital in stable condition, but gave no further details about the incident or his injuries.

Trans Mountain said it had immediately paused all construction operations in the Lower Mainland and will work with the WorkSafeBC and the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) to investigate the incident. The CER has dispatched safety specialists to oversee Trans Mountain’s investigation, and will also conduct an assessment of risk and potential non-compliances.

“Any incident is one too many. Every day, on every work site, people have the right to feel and stay safe. This sad occurrence brings home why we must always keep safety as our priority,” Gitane De Silva, Chief Executive Officer of CER, said in a statement on Dec. 16.

The Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee for the project has been notified of the incident.

Trans Mountain has worked in multiple construction areas across Alberta and British Columbia throughout 2020, and has completing roughly 20 per cent of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline project.

The Canadian government approved the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on June 18, 2019. The pipeline, stretched between Strathcona County, Alberta and Burnaby, and B.C, will create a channel system with the nominal capacity of an estimated 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.

“Next year, 2021, will see peak construction for the Project, with thousands of people working in hundreds of sites across Alberta and British Columbia. It is during this time when one of the greatest risks to the Project becomes worker safety,” Anderson said.

A fatal injury occurred during construction on Oct. 27.

Samatar Sahal, 40, was fatally hit by a piece equipment at a west Edmonton construction site. The father of four was a contractor employee with SA Energy, which leads the pipeline expansion work in the Edmonton region.

“Trans Mountain is proactively taking the step to temporarily stand down construction on the Expansion Project to review, reset and refocus our efforts, and those of our contractors and their workers,” Anderson said.

Tran Mountain will make use of the temporary suspension to engage its contractors and review its safety management system, including COVID-19 protocols.