Fine issued to Trans Mountain pipeline for harming birds reduced from $88K to $4K

A baby hummingbird waits for its mother in its nest in California in 2021. One of the violations with which Trans Mountain was charged included the destruction of an Anna's hummingbird nest somewhere between Burnaby and Langley. (John Antczak/AP - image credit)
A baby hummingbird waits for its mother in its nest in California in 2021. One of the violations with which Trans Mountain was charged included the destruction of an Anna's hummingbird nest somewhere between Burnaby and Langley. (John Antczak/AP - image credit)

The $88,000 penalty handed to Trans Mountain Pipeline almost a year ago for harming nesting birds has been reduced upon review to just $4,000.

In the decision, the Commission of the Canada Energy Regulator said Trans Mountain Pipeline's violation of environmental regulations aimed at protecting nesting migratory birds was "unacceptable."

However, the three-person review panel also said the amount of the penalty was not properly determined, characterizing the "level of actual harm as low, given that the species impacted are common species, and the number of individuals impacted is relatively low compared to the estimated populations."

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project will triple the capacity of the existing 1,150-kilometre line between Edmonton and Burnaby to about 890,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen, lighter crudes and refined fuel.

According to the review, the first violation on April 21, 2021, involved the destruction of an Anna's hummingbird nest and egg by workers clearing trees along the pipeline route in Spread 7, the section between Langley and Burnaby.

A few days later, Environment and Climate Change Canada halted pipeline construction for four months — until the end of bird nesting season — in an area along the Brunette River in Burnaby.

A second violation on May 8, 2021, saw workers destroy an unmarked American robin's nest and egg in the Coquihalla/Hope region. Two additional "near misses" involving nesting American robins in Burnaby were cited in the same month.

CBC
CBC

The official who issued the violations and fine said Trans Mountain failed to adequately oversee its contractors and did not ensure the competency, training or supervision of personnel, "which resulted in potential and real harm to the environment."

Last year, Trans Mountain Corp. announced the price of the expansion project had ballooned from $12.6 billion to $21.4 billion. Construction is expected to be finished sometime this year.