Mar 15, 2019
Before construction of TransCanada’s recently completed Mountaineer XPress (MXP) natural gas infrastructure project, the project team spent countless hours identifying environmentally sensitive areas and modifying the route, in addition to developing construction techniques to minimize environmental disturbances. But once construction began, the team was presented with a unique challenge that showed no creature is too small when it comes to protecting wildlife.
In the spring of 2018, environmental specialists working on MXP learned that the Clubshell and Snuffbox mussels – both freshwater mussels recognized as federally endangered species – had been found during pre-construction environmental surveys in two separate locations where the 170-mile pipeline would cross waterbodies. The project team quickly convened and began developing a plan to protect the tiny mollusks.
“We had to identify and assess methods of how we could safely cross the waterways without negatively impacting the endangered mussels,” stated Maggie Stuart, one of the eight project managers for MXP.
Project Manager, Mountaineer Xpress Project
Changes included reducing the construction footprint and shortening the amount of time the project team would be working in the streams where the mussels were originally found.
Before construction across the stream started, the endangered mussels were collected and relocated from the construction area by trained species specialists, safely moving them to other areas of the stream unaffected by construction activities. After all mussels were removed from the streams, timber mats were placed in the stream bed as an additional layer of protection during construction for any mussels that may be located deep below the stream bed.
“I’m proud of how we conducted our construction on this project, being a responsible developer and steward of the environment,” said Richard Prior, Vice President U.S. Natural Gas Projects. “The discovery of an endangered species set our construction plans back several months, ultimately requiring crews to work around the clock in wintery conditions, and within a reduced construction footprint. Through effective planning, this was accomplished in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible. The efforts of our team are a testament to our commitment to the environment while responsibly delivering the energy that North Americans need.”
MXP, which was placed into full service on March 1, 2019, is now the latest of a network of pipelines designed to deliver clean, domestically produced natural gas in an environmentally responsible manner.
“As our company footprint spans an entire continent, our teams have the opportunity to work in many ecologically diverse regions,” said Jason Chambers, environmental compliance coordinator.