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NEB wants marine protection program from Trans Mountain pipeline builder

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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 focus of the review is to apply the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Species at Risk Act to project-related marine shipping, the board says in the document.

The conditions mitigate potential risks to the environment and protect the public, it says.

Releasing these draft conditions and recommendations is not an indication of the board’s forthcoming recommendation to the federal government to either approve or deny the project, it says.

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.

Killer whales a priority, gov’t says

Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the transportation minister, had said earlier the southern resident killer whale is a vital part of Canada’s local marine ecosystem.

“The survival of this iconic species is a priority of our government and indeed a priority for all Canadians,” he said.

The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the government’s approval of the project in August, citing the energy board’s failure to examine impacts on the ocean ecosystem, including B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales. It also found Canada failed to meaningfully consult with First Nations during the final phase of discussions.

The board is also looking to limit the number of whale watching boats and the amount of time they spend on the water.

Feds purchased pipeline

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which purchased the pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion, ordered the energy board to review the project’s marine shipping effects within 155 days.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Thursday 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 National Energy Board is an independent regulator and is responsible for overseeing the review on marine shipping,” he said.

“We will carefully review them and provide comment, as necessary.”

The board is seeking comment on its draft conditions.

Plan should be in place 3 months before pipeline operates

Trans Mountain could not immediately be reached for comment.

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 says.

The federal government should review and update its marine shipping oil spill response requirements and look at including Indigenous Peoples and local communities in response planning, it recommends.

Steel pipe to be used in the oil pipeline construction of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project sit on rail cars at a stockpile site in Kamloops, B.C. in May. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

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.

It also would like to see a regulator framework for making enhanced tug escort mandatory in the Salish Sea for oil tankers.

The federal government should implement a marine bird monitoring program to better understand impacts of vessel use on avian wildlife including species at risk, it says.

Greenhouse gas reduction measures related to marine shipping should be accelerated and implemented, the board recommends.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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