Kinder Morgan Canada – Response to Fish Spawning Habitat Concerns

The following correspondence was sent by Kinder Morgan Canada in response to concerns raised by BC Métis Federation members following a video that was released on a facebook page.

This was a very concerning issue and BC Métis Federation took steps to seek answers. The following response has been provided by Kinder Morgan Canada.

Hi Keith,

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you on your memberships questions about the use of fish spawning deterrents. I can appreciate sensitivity of this issue to BC Metis Federation members. I have spent some time working with our environment team so that we could provide you with an accurate and informative answer respecting our use of fish spawning mats.

Trans Mountain installed fish spawning deterrents (mats) in 8 locations in summer 2017 as described in the National Energy Board (NEB) plans (Condition 43 Watercourse Crossing Inventory). These mats were fastened to the bottom of the streams at locations where potential spawning habitat had been identified at stream crossings planned for construction in the winter of 2018.

These fish mat installations were undertaken to ensure that construction would not damage incubating eggs or larvae that may not have hatched before instream construction was to occur. While fish are known to return to specific streams to spawn, they do not return to the exact same spot as natural stream events modify the location of spawning grounds from one year to the next. Spawning deterrent mats do not prevent fish from spawning in the streams, it only deters them from spawning at a specific location. This type of mitigation has been accepted by the NEB and has been approved previously on other projects by the Department of Fisheries of Environment Canada. I have attached a document that provides more information with respect to this technique.

The issue with the NEB arose because Trans Mountain began installation of deterrents as part of mitigation in advance of construction as a pre-construction activity – which is permitted under NEB decision. However after the installations occurred, the NEB examined the issue and in its inspection report, the Board stated that

  • “the installation of fish deterrent mattings falls within the definition of construction in Certificate OC-064”
  • “numerous conditions of Certificate OC-064 which require approval in advance of construction of the pipeline portion of the project have not yet been approved by the Board, and “
  • “it is the IO’s [National Energy Board’s] view that there is potential for greater environmental harm should the company be required to remove the spawning deterrents while target fish remain actively spawning within the relevant systems. The IO is therefore satisfied that Trans Mountain should monitor, maintain and remove the previously installed spawning deterrents according to the measures and timing outlined in its Sept 25 and 28 NNC responses.”

The 8 spawning deterrent mats that were installed are now being removed in accordance with NEB’s direction.

I hope this addresses the concerns of members respecting this issue. Please let me know if you or your membership have any further questions.

Best regards,

Click here to view the KMC response as a PDF.

2 Responses to Kinder Morgan Canada – Response to Fish Spawning Habitat Concerns

  1. Sharon Eyford November 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

    GOOD !!!!!!

  2. Ian Stephen November 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    A few things not mentioned in Kinder Morgan’s reply.

    – The spawning deterrents were installed without authorization under the BC Water Sustainability Act or permit under the Oil and Gas Activities Act for instream work

    – The method used, snow fence laid on the bottom of the stream, is unproven. In the Trans Mountain biologist’s own words on their blog post of September 12, 2017 “This is a relatively new science, without a body of supporting evidence for its success.” If it is not effective there may be eggs and/or larvae in the stream when it is dewatered for pipeline installation. Even if the deterrents are successful doing the pipeline installation outside of least risk biological windows while eggs and/or larvae are in the gravel downstream puts those at risk if sediment washes down stream. Experimental techniques should be undertaken with proper scientific rigor, not just be put into production use in streams where populations of fish species of management concern are found. (A complaint has been lodged with the College of Applied Biology.)

    – None of the pipeline route outside of existing tank farms and the Westridge terminal has been approved by the NEB. The detailed route hearing schedule for route segment 3 where these deterrents were installed hasn’t even been announced yet. Kinder Morgan installed these deterrents on streamcrossings where the route has not been approved and may not be approved by Kinder Morgan’s preferred construction dates outside of least risk biological windows that these spawning deterrents were installed to facilitate.

    – Kinder Morgan said to the NEB in a letter October 6 2017 “Trans Mountain notes that premature removal of the Deterrents – i.e., while fish are actively spawning within each system – would likely cause adverse impacts to spawning fish and potentially constitute serious harm under the Fisheries Act.” The NEB wrote in a letter to Trans Mountain October 12, 2017 “the corresponding Inspection Report notes that the removal of the installed spawning deterrents while target fish remain actively spawning within the relevant systems has the potential to result in greater environmental harm” It should be asked who determined that removing the mats would cause harm, Kinder Morgan or the NEB? What were the qualifications of the person who made that determination? It should also be noted that as many as four of the spawning deterrents have since been removed by defenders of wild salmon with Secwepemc permission.

    – “The 8 spawning deterrent mats that were installed are now being removed in accordance with NEB’s direction.” That direction is allowing Kinder Morgan to remove the spawning deterrents (those that are left) on their own schedule, apparently allowing the company to reap the benefit of ignoring the rules by carrying out the unauthorized installations.

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