Hummingbird halts construction of controversial oil pipeline

Anna’s hummingbird next found in felled tree near site of expansion project

Kate Ng
Thursday 29 April 2021 23:10
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The nest of an Anna’s hummingbird was discovered in a felled tree near the TransMountain Expansion Project in Canada
The nest of an Anna’s hummingbird was discovered in a felled tree near the TransMountain Expansion Project in Canada

A huge multibillion-dollar oil pipeline expansion project in Canada has been halted by a tiny hummingbird for four months.

Trans Mountain Corp, which is carrying out construction of a US$12.6 billion project that will nearly triple capacity of the pipeline, was ordered to halt work on a section to protect the hummingbird’s nests.

The order came after an Anna’s hummingbird nest was found in a tree felled during the construction. Although the bird is not endangered, it is protected under federal law.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a statement: “Cutting vegetation and trees or carrying out other disruptive activities such as bulldozing or using chainsaws and heavy machinery in the vicinity of active nests will likely result in disturbance or destruction of those nests.”

The department added that due to the season, “migratory birds are particularly vulnerable at this time”.

The project has been strongly opposed by environmental campaigners and indigenous groups.

Members of a community group working to protect bird nests that have been monitoring the construction near Burnaby city said they confirmed eight active nests on the site that was ordered to halt work.

Sarah Ross, from Community Nest Finding Network, said in a statement that there may be “hundreds, likely thousands more bird nests along the 1,500km of the pipeline route”.

“And yet, construction continues without adequate government monitoring or protection,” she added.

The expansion of the pipeline will see it running from Edmonton, Alberta, to the coast of British Columbia, enabling it to ship 890,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products. It is set to be completed late 2022.

TransMountain, which was bought by prime minister Justin Trudeau’s administration for US$4.5 billion in 2018, said the order applies to an area “covering approximately 1,000 metres of private land between the Trans-Canada Highway and a rail corridor”.

The company said in a statement it will continue work in all other regions of the expansion project and that the order does not impact its planned completion date.

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