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NEB wants marine protection program from Trans Mountain builder

Last Updated Jan 11, 2019 at 8:46 am MDT

The federal government is looking at getting a former Supreme Court justice to help guide a renewed consultation with Indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. An aerial view of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain marine terminal, in Burnaby, B.C., is shown on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER — The National Energy Board would require the creation of a marine mammal protection program for the Trans Mountain pipeline in a series of draft conditions it has laid out before it considers the project.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal government’s approval of the pipeline expansion last year, saying the process was flawed because it didn’t consider the project’s impact on the marine environment.

The board says the Trans Mountain marine protection plan should be in place three months before it starts operations and should describe how it will incorporate Indigenous traditions and knowledge in developing its programs.

The board, which has to have its final recommendations in by Feb. 22,  also recommends a number of measures be taken to offset the increased underwater noise and potential risk posed by ship strikes of marine mammals including southern resident killer whales.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the draft recommendations and conditions are an “important step towards meeting the reasonable timeline that we provided, and the type of progress that Canadians expect to see.”

The board is seeking comment on its draft conditions.

Ottawa recently purchased the $4.5 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion because it says it wants to ensure it gets built.

The pipeline expansion would triple the amount of oil being carried from the Edmonton area to a marine shipping terminal in Burnaby, increasing the number of tankers in Metro Vancouver waters seven-fold.

Trans Mountain could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Canadian Press