Coastal GasLink officials said they are anticipating workforce numbers to increase to approximately 650 workers towards the end of May, with work focused on environmental monitoring and field work, grading, grubbing and site preparation, to position the project for pipe assembly and installation later this summer.
In a May 21 news release, the pipeline company provided a project update. Officials said pipe deliveries by rail and truck have continued, with 297 kilometres of pipe delivered to-date.
“A key focus for the near-term is managing erosion and sediment control to protect local waterways from run-off, and planning for additional site preparation activities,” the news release stated.
As each worksite and accommodation is ‘unique’, officials said that they are working closely with Northern Health and contractors to enhance the health and safety program and implement site-specific plans in accordance with government guidelines.
Coastal GasLink’s medical service provider, International SOS, is helping ensure workers are healthy and fit to work through enhanced health screening measures.
Suzanne Wilton, public affairs and communication for TransCanada said,”International SOS personnel continue to lead all medical services for the project. Their international medical services experience includes dealing with pandemics. Their health care professionals are reviewing our plans, they are on our work-sites, and they are available to our workers providing 24/7 support. They’ve always been a part of our work program so that our workers have access to first aid attendants, nurse practitioners, and overall medical program oversight.”
The reason International SOS exists is so that Vanderhoof’s local health care system is not impacted, Wilton said.
“International SOS have plans, guidelines, and screening tools that are implemented project-wide, including the Vanderhoof worksite. Transmission prevention efforts are in effect including enhanced health screening via questionnaire and temperature checks as well as ongoing communication on risks and updates related to COVID-19. There are also mobile medical units on-site.”
All workers at the site have had to finish an online questionnaire prior to being granted access to the site. The questionnaire is meant to ensure no worker has been involved in “high risk activities”, exhibits symptoms, or is known to have contracted COVID-19, Wilton said. High risk activities include international travel, she added.
“Prior to being admitted to site, all workers will attend a safety orientation focused on COVID–19 protocols. This is integrated with our contractors. At the start and end of each shift supervisors verify that all workers are healthy, fit for work, and to their knowledge, free of any symptoms or restrictions associated with COVID–19.”
“International SOS onsite medics monitor the workforce for symptoms, and they ensure that supervisors and accommodation staff are educated in what to look for. access to the information on where each and every person is staying. The majority of workers are staying in a temporary lodge on the site and some accommodated in local motel accommodations,” Wilton said.
Over the next couple of weeks, work will continue on the Vanderhoof, Huckleberry and P2 Lodges, and to reconfigure 9A Lodge.
The Huckleberry Lodge is in section 7 of the pipeline route which spans from the south of Houston to the north of Morice Lake. Whereas, both P2 and 9A Lodge are in section 8 of the pipeline’s route which encompasses north of Morice Lake to Kitimat.
For Vanderhoof specifically, work is going to continue on the Vanderhoof Lodge close to the municipal airport, which is section 4 of the pipeline’s route.
This section (4) encompasses 93 kms from the north of Prince George to northwest of Vanderhoof. The prime contractor is SA Energy Group.
At this site, there is one workforce accommodation at the Vanderhoof Lodge. Additionally, there is a short-term workforce accommodation site at a lodge named 5B, closer to Prince George.
Vanderhoof Lodge’s construction is progressing. In terms of upcoming plans, contractors will be preparing for the summer mainline pipe installation. There is ongoing erosion and sediment control occurring, and workers will be building access roads as well.
Meanwhile, in section 5 of the pipeline, which is north of Vanderhoof to south of Burns Lake, the entire route has been cleared.
There is one workforce accommodation for this section called Little Rock Lake Lodge. It’s located in Nadleh Whut’en, adjacent to Fraser Lake and there are currently 14 workers living at that lodge.