Kinder Morgan ordered to stop installing fish spawning deterrent mats

By on September 28, 2017
Kinder Morgan placed plastic snow fencing along the bottom of some streams its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will cross to deter fish spawning before being told to stop by the National Energy Board. (Photo from

The National Energy Board (NEB) has ordered Kinder Morgan to stop installing mats, which discourage fish from spawning in streams its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is slated to cross.

Numerous conditions have not yet been met by the company, which are required by the federal regulator, according to an NEB letter sent to Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson.

“Trans Mountain must obtain all applicable approvals from the board which permit the commencement of construction … including the installation of mats, stated the letter, which is dated Sept. 22.

The NEB ordered that the installation of any other mats be discontinued, and the company has complied.

These mats are plastic snow fencing pinned down with rocks, which Kinder Morgan installed in eight streams during mid-August ahead of construction, stated a company press release from Sept. 12.

Seven watercourses near Valemont, B.C. and one near Hinton, Alta. received these mats, which temporarily deter fish from laying their eggs over sections of a riverbed intersected by the pipeline construction right-of-way.

“Once the spawning season is complete, the mats are removed,” stated the press release. “Within Alberta and B.C. combined, we’re proposing to use this method at 26 locations.”

Not all creeks and rivers the pipeline crosses will require the mats. 

The mats cover gravel beds to deter fish from laying their eggs in places where pipeline construction is expected to take place. (Photo from

“If the stream bed section at the right-of-way crossing is covered with large cobbles or boulders and there is no suitable spawning substrate, the deterrent mat is not necessary,” stated Trans Mountain fisheries biologist Calum Bonnington.

“We will be responding to the NEB’s correspondence and are finding the best path forward to ensure we meet our commitment to minimizing environmental impacts of construction of the project” stated Kinder Morgan spokesperson Ali Hounsell an email to the Herald.

Shawn Denstedt, a lawyer representing Kinder Morgan subsidiary Trans Mountain has since asked the NEB for permission to proceed with the installation of the mats without prior approval of other applicable pre-construction conditions.  In a letter to the NEB Denstedt writes that the mats need to be installed before spawning season begins, and if not some construction could be delayed up to a year.

The company has not specified whether or not these mats will need to be placed in the Merritt area rivers the pipeline expansion will cross.


This story was updated on Sept. 29 to include the fact that the company has since asked for permission to proceed with the installation of the mats. 


  1. Ian Stephen

    September 28, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    They may have complied now that they’ve been caught but they’ve also applied for permission to continue, specifically listing four streams in the Coquihalla Canyon where they want to block spawning rather than plan construction for the DFO mandated least-risk window. They’ve applied for relief from section 31 of the NEB Act that requires approval of the route before construction can begin.

  2. Earl Richards

    September 29, 2017 at 11:59 am

    KM has been a “pain-in-the-neck” to British Columbians for several years, now. Dump KM, to save beautiful BC. The salmon are the life blood of the Fraser River watershed.

  3. Tsouli

    October 1, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    In light of the fact that the sockeye salmon are at risk, it is very disturbing to read this article. To undertake actions to defer the salmon from spawning in its natural habitat is wrong at all levels. Corporations and government must be held accountable. Anyone who enjoys eating salmon ought to be concerned.

  4. Patrick Rogers

    October 3, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    This is an absolute outrage! Every citizen of British Columbia should stand up and throw this criminal company out of Canada. Kinder Morgan, sell off your Canadian assets and go back to Texas where you can continue to poison the Gulf of Mexico under the Trump administration.

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