How do pipeline companies protect the land?

Pipeline operators want to have as little impact on the land as possible. When it’s impossible to avoid disturbing the land during construction activities or while responding to an incident, companies ensure the area is fully reclaimed and recovered – generally within five years.

Careful approach to building pipelines

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:

  • Scheduling construction around the agricultural growing season
  • Following wetland protection guidelines
  • Following biosecurity practices, like cleaning equipment prior to working on the site, to avoid introducing a destructive species
  • Identifying how to return the vegetation to as close to its original condition as possible to promote the species returning to the habitat or ecosystem

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.

Responding to spills on land

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.

Returning the area to its natural state 

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.

Pipeline operators take great care to bring the land back to its original condition.

Pipeline operators take great care to bring the land back to its original condition.

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