Politics

Trans Mountain expansion resumes after long shutdown

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project announced today it's restarting construction this week after a two-month shutdown following several safety lapses.

Pipeline company says it has begun a 'a staged remobilization'

Crews connect two pieces of pipe near Edmonton in March as part of the Trans Mountain expansion project. (CBC)

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project announced today it's restarting work after a two-month shutdown following several safety lapses.

The federal government-owned corporation said it has begun what it called "a staged remobilisation of the company's 7,000-strong workforce." Work was supposed to resume on Jan.4.

Construction halted in December after two serious workplace incidents. Trans Mountain said it conducted "a thorough review and examination" of its safety procedures afterwards.

"The company and its contractors identified opportunities for enhancements to safety measures, some of which may have been contributing factors to the events of the past few months," the corporation said in a statement today.

Trans Mountain says the Canada Energy Regulator and others continue to independently investigate the incidents.

Trans Mountain said that as work proceeds, contractors and supervisors will undergo retraining and re-orientation, worksite drug and alcohol testing will be ramped up and the project will be subjected to enhanced inspection and audits.

'It's problematic'

A former executive vice president with TransCanada, now called TC Energy, said Canadian taxpayers should expect the recent safety issues will delay the project and increase costs.

"The longer the project takes to restart fully, that is going to cost money," said Dennis McConaghy, who oversaw the Keystone XL project for Trans Canada. "So it's problematic."

A critic of the project said today's news doesn't offer any indication of when the government-owned pipeline corporation will start laying pipe again. Economist Robyn Allan said the announcement only indicates that Trans Mountain and its contractors will be conducting more training in the near future.

"Anyone who understands how projects are constructed and appropriately managed can see right through this announcement," said Allan, an expert intervenor during the pipeline's regulatory process.

Trans Mountain didn't say in its statement whether its expansion project remains on time and on budget. In December, the pipeline's corporation president and CEO, Ian Anderson, said Trans Mountain was on track to meet its targets.

But that was before its latest shutdown, which followed an incident that left a worker seriously injured at the Burnaby Terminal and a workplace death in Edmonton. Two contractors were dismissed after these safety lapses and it's not clear if they have been replaced.

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