Environmental and Engineering Field Studies
TransCanada recognizes the value of wildlife and their habitats, so in order to understand potential interactions between wildlife and the construction and operation of our pipelines, we collect environmental studies and consult with regulatory agencies and Aboriginal communities.
For instance, TransCanada is working with the Alberta government and Forest Industries to restore more than 100 hectares of woodland caribou habitat in a recently established conservation area, and have developed project-specific Caribou Protection Plans. A timing restriction of February 15 to July 15 is recommended in caribou ranges to reduce impacts to pregnant cows and their calves, so TransCanada employs an early in/early out approach to reduce disturbance by initiating activities as early as possible in the winter and working expeditiously to limit late winter activities.
Another example is a recent project in Idaho to stabilize a natural gas pipeline under the Pend Oreille River, where TransCanada developed innovative methods to avoid interrupting the migratory pattern of the threatened bull trout. We also donated money toward a local fish hatchery to support their conservation work for this species.
Our field studies see scientists and trained field workers collect data to minimize the effects on the environment . Areas of study may include:
Fisheries and Aquatics
Fisheries biologists and field technicians collect information related to species composition and their habitats. Baseline conditions help determine the corridor design and layout, as well as best crossing locations, crossing method and timing for construction.
Wildlife biologists conduct surveys of wildlife found in the vicinity of the project, including species at risk and wildlife habitat. Data is collected about nesting birds, fur bearers, mammals, waterfowl areas, reptiles and amphibians.
Surveys are conducted on agricultural lands to document baseline soil conditions and to help set soil-handling measures. Crews collect data on characteristics such as salt content, particle size and organic matter. Soils are categorized according to the Canadian System of Soil Classification.
Vegetation and Wetlands
Vegetation and wetland specialists conduct surveys to identify wetland areas, vegetation types, rare plant populations and ecological communities. Forestry specialists undertake a timber assessment to estimate the amount of total and merchantable timber.
Hydrology and Hydrogeology
Hydrologists collect detailed data on all bodies of water, such as channel geometry, flow rates, temperatures, turbidity and pH levels. Hydrogeology is the study of the movement or flow distribution and quality of groundwater.
Terrain types, terrain features, geological features and ecosystem types are identified. Preliminary surveys are conducted from the air, followed by detailed studies by ground crews.
Due to the low-impact nature of most operation and maintenance activities, the risk of impacts to wildlife species during operation of the project is extremely low, and in most cases non-existent.