Construction of the 493 km Corridor Pipeline System commenced in summer 2000, and is scheduled for completion in 2002. The system connects the two major components of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project — the Muskeg River Mine, north of Ft. McMurray and the Upgrader adjacent to Shell Canada Limited’s Scotford Refinery, near Fort Saskatchewan. The pipeline will also link the Upgrader with terminals in the Edmonton Area. The system includes dual pipelines (610 mm and 323.9 mm O.D.) as well as associated pump stations and valve sites. Corridor Pipeline Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Gas Inc. Corridor pipeline crosses Hartley Creek near the south boundary of Shell’s lease C-13, north of Ft. McMurray, in the Ft. McKay First Nations traditional lands. An evaluation of the proposed crossing completed for the project application identified the location as highly sensitive to pipeline construction activities because of the high fish habitat quality and historical presence of sport and coarse fish. Although a fish survey completed for the above evaluation identified only coarse fish species, the provincial approval for the project required a trenchless crossing method unless authorized in writing by the Director. After completing detailed geotechnical and fisheries assessments of the crossing site, authorization from the director was subsequently obtained to complete the crossing using an isolation method. Planning and consultation with Ft. McKay First Nations to construct through their traditional lands incorporated aspects of traditional ecological knowledge. As part of the program, Corridor Pipeline committed to completion of a traditional plant survey. The results of the survey identified Hartley Creek as having cultural significance to the band. The riparian zone in this area supports a large concentration of food and medicinal plant species. Specialized mitigative measures were incorporated in order to maintain the density and diversity of the Hartley Creek riparian zone. This paper presents information with regard to the environmental studies and the regulatory process used to obtain approval to complete construction of the Hartley Creek crossing using an isolation method instead of the trenchless method originally required by the provincial government. It also explains the consultation program with the Ft. McKay First Nations and environmental planning used to maintain the density and diversity of riparian vegetation at this culturally significant crossing location.

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