By Andru McCracken

An accident has caused the 12.4 billion dollar Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project from Edmonton to Burnaby to shut down until January 4.

“Our top priorities remain the safety of our workers and maintaining a safe work environment as we continue to work towards the successful completion of this critical Canadian project. Over the past two months, we have seen safety incidents at our worksites that are unacceptable to Trans Mountain,” said Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain.

Some local workers were due to take off for the Christmas holidays anyways, but a spokesperson for Trans Mountain said that the break will be more than two weeks and project-wide.

Trans Mountain and the Canadian Energy Regulator have not provided details about the incident, other than that a worker was seriously injured in Burnaby on December 15.

Anderson said the company would take the time to ‘review, reset and refocus.’

“We are committed to a strong culture of safety above all else and insist that our Project contractors and subcontractors are equally committed. This is non-negotiable, we must improve the safety culture and performance on our Project,” said Anderson.

He said temporary stand down would provide a chance for Trans Mountain to engage with contractors, their staff and their own employees.

“We will dedicate this time to ensure all safety management systems are in place, including COVID-19 protocols, to ensure everyone returns to work safely,” he said.

Anderson said that the project is about 20% complete so far.

“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.”

Gitane De Silva Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Energy Regulator said the occupational health and safety for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is shared between her organization and WorkSafe BC.

“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,” said De Silva

A death
On October 27 a worker died after being struck by a piece of equipment on the Trans Mountain pipeline west of Edmonton. The worker was an employee of SA Energy Group, a contractor hired to construct portions of the Trans Mountain pipeline in the greater Edmonton area. The contractor has since been terminated from the project.

COVID Violations
The Canadian Energy Regulator found 37 violations of three COVID protocols during a compliance inspection at the Westridge Marine Terminal and Burnaby Terminal in early December.

“Work at each of these sites is contracted out to Kiewit-Ledcor Trans Mountain Partnership.”

“At each site, workers … were observed not adhering to the requirements outlined in the COVID protocols, despite the company messaging and signage around sites,” according to a report from the regulator.