Like any construction project, building a pipeline must balance completing the work on time and on budget with environmental protection. WSP recently helped support this balance while working Enbridge Line 3, a large pipeline project in Canada, in part by engaging local Indigenous communities and businesses to complete the work in an environmentally sound way.
Built in the 1960s, Line 3 carries liquid hydrocarbons 1,070 km from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin This US $4 billion pipeline replacement project included installing new pipe alongside the existing pipe, as well as pumps, valves, and other infrastructure. The replacement was constructed between July 2017 and November 2019, with the new line onstream in December 2019.
WSP was engaged for construction monitoring services, as well as to provide consulting support for Enbridge’s regulatory compliance and permitting commitments.
WSP provided specialized support services during all phases of the pipeline construction activities, focused on monitoring for:
- Wildlife: nest sweeps, amphibian salvage and relocation
- Soils: topsoil stripping and replacement monitoring
- Aquatics: water quality monitoring and fish salvage
- Historic resources: archaeological resource protection
- Wetlands: classification, delineation, and mitigation
- Vegetation: weed and rare plant identification, delineation, and mitigation
The WSP team used its understanding of pipeline construction realities to find innovative ways to meet environmental obligations, while minimizing impact on construction costs and timelines. In total, about 170 WSP staff worked on the project in some capacity.
Capacity and skills development for Indigenous communities
WSP’s experience has shown that members of Indigenous communities in Canada are eager to build work-related skills and then gainfully apply those skills. Enbridge, looking to bring positive outcomes for the Indigenous people living on or near the Line 3 right of way, sought WSP’s help to engage Indigenous communities to complete the work in an environmentally sound way.
Along some parts of the line, WSP was able to work with companies set up by the Indigenous communities themselves. To provide resources in other locations, WSP hired and trained Indigenous workers to support the project. Ultimately, about 50 members of Indigenous communities became employees involved in the environmental construction monitoring.
Preparing these employees for their role involved several days of training to earn their certifications in specific areas including first aid, pipeline construction safety, handling of hazardous materials, and transportation of dangerous goods. Completing this training was a site requirement and helped employees enhance their skills in support of WSP specialists.
We believe the environmental monitoring project’s safety record highlights the success of our approach and the team – with about 64,000 hours of work from WSP employees, Indigenous employees and subcontractors, there were no lost time incidents.
For the Indigenous workers, benefits included gaining valuable certifications for future employment and gaining a potential edge in the job market with valuable work experience, and potential work references in addition to the income earned from the work. As well, everyone on the team has the satisfaction of working together to manage the impacts of a major construction project.
* This work was performed by Golder professionals who joined WSP in an acquisition completed in 2021.