Trans Mountain sediment and erosion controls failed NEB inspection

Newly released report details issues found in April with sediment fences, erosion blankets and hydroseed spraying

An April inspection of Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm found several improperly installed sediment and erosion control measures.

The joint inspection included inspectors from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committee – a 13-member group that advises regulators and monitors the Trans Mountain project. 

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The NOW first reported the NEB’s finding of non-compliance the day after the two-day inspection, on April 24 and 25, but a recently released report reveals more detail than previously known.

Inspectors found four issues with the sediment control and erosion measures:

  • A sediment fence, meant to prevent particulate matter form entering a waterway, was found to be improperly keyed in along Silver Creek tributaries.
  • Another sediment fence at the bottom of a hill on the east side of the property “had been inappropriately installed and failed, resulting in sedimentation into a wooded area.”
  • Blankets meant to control erosion were also not installed properly along Silver Creek tributaries.
  • Hydroseed – a slurry of seed and mulch – was found on top of erosion control blankets along Silver Creek tributaries.

This inspection came 11 days after the NEB received a report of a sediment spill into Silver Creek on April 13. But both the province and the City of Burnaby did not find elevated sediment levels at the time. 

That initial investigation also found some erosion and sediment control issues that were corrected on site.

Streamkeeper John Preissl, who has long criticized Trans Mountain’s sediment control measures, said this report proves him right.

“I caught them red-handed again,” he said. 

During the 11 days between the initial report and the joint inspection, Preissl said he spent a lot of time on Burnaby Mountain, watching Trans Mountain crews working to install fencing and blankets.

“I was up there pretty much every day, and they were busy as hell,” he said.

The sediment can smother and kill young spawning salmon down river, and the hydroseeding, if sprayed before rain, could lead to fertilizer in the waterways and grass growing along river banks where it doesn’t belong, Preissl said.

Trans Mountain corrected the issues by the deadline given by the regulator, a spokesperson said in an email.

“Trans Mountain continues to abide by its environmental protection plan and erosion and sediment control plan for Burnaby Terminal in all of its ongoing activities,” the spokesperson said. 

 

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