When embarking on a pipeline construction project, pipeline operators always conduct an environmental assessment. Biologists assess the habitat, including vegetation, along a proposed route, evaluate the potential environmental effects and risks, and develop mitigative measures.
Comprehensive environmental protection plans are developed, outlining measures to protect vegetation. Some of these practices include:
During construction, pipeline operators use a variety of methods to reduce impacts to vegetation. This can include directionally drilling under rivers, avoiding sensitive areas and restricting activities to times when the area is the least vulnerable.
If a spill is detected, emergency response plans are activated to limit the damage to the environment, including vegetation.
Emergency crews use their expertise and specialized equipment to contain the damage to the land. For example, crews will create barriers to stop the spread of oil and pumps will begin clearing oil off the land and into storage containers.
Experts like agrologists will do a thorough environmental assessment to determine impacts on soil and vegetation, and then begin the reclamation process.
After construction, the land along the pipeline is restored, using plans developed by biologists and agrologists. The original soil is returned to the ground, vegetation is replanted and the right-of-way re-seeded.
After a spill, contaminated soil may be removed and replaced, or cleaned at the site. Native vegetation will be planted to return the area to the state it was in before the incident.
Pipeline companies monitor the reclaimed land for years afterward to ensure that the plants have been re-grown and the reclamation has been successful.