A Volvo EC210B FX. “This is a fantastic machine. Only problem is, it always starts. Even at minus thirty degrees (Celsius) after sitting all night. I can’t even blame the machine and get some extra time off!”
The Job Site
Probably one of the most ecologically sensitive construction sites anywhere in North America, maybe even world-wide. Kinder-Morgan Canada Inc. and their prime contractor, North American Construction, were twinning all 1,150 kilometers (715 miles) of the Trans Mountain Multi-Product Petroleum Line (TMX). This portion, known as the TMX Anchor Loop, was passing through one of North America’s greatest natural treasures, Jasper National Park. Located in west-central Alberta, not only is Jasper the largest and most northerly Canadian rocky mountain national park, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. So the eyes of every Canadian conservationist as well as UNESCO and conservationists world-wide were focused squarely on this project. It was critical that every precaution be taken to ensure that the area’s diverse wildlife, as well as the delicate and fragile ecosystems, of this special corner of the globe be fully protected.
The Working Conditions.
Before any pipeline could be laid, the entire right-of-way had to be cleared of all timber and everything had to be grubbed. All logs removed, all brush disposed of and every stump pulled out. Enter, Don Matthew and his Chinook Cove Contracting team. “Negotiations for this project have been ongoing for over two years. Not only is this a national park, it was the traditional hunting and trapping grounds of our people, the First Nations Simpcw Band. Our chief wanted to make sure that the people of the band were rewarded and had an opportunity to work on this project. I guess that is where I came in. I’m in the forest and silviculture industries and I’m a band member and most of my operators are band members as well. It was a natural fit for us.” Kinder-Morgan, North American Construction and Parks Canada agreed. So in October 2007, Don moved his fleet of Volvo forestry machines into the park. An area that had been out of bounds to forestry workers for decades. “It was really something,” Don added, “it was even a bit emotional, here we were cutting first and second growth timber that had been standing in many cases for well over one hundred years. And in some places, maybe even forever.”
The Job Site Demands
Getting to this point was not easy for Don and his crew. Every forestry machine had to be gone over as though under a microscope. Every hydraulic line had to be checked, every nook and cranny of the machines had to be cleaned. There could not even be the hint of a possible oil leak or contaminants from another job site. Every Volvo had to look and perform like they did when they came off the assembly line. Parks Canada, Kinder-Morgan and North American Construction all had inspectors on the site. In the beginning, the operators couldn’t hardly make a move without someone looking over their shoulder and checking for environmental damage. But from day one, every Volvo performed flawlessly.
In addition, there were a number of other serious obstacles that the Chinook Cove team had to overcome. First, they were working in the winter months in an area where the daylight hours are very short, the temperature rarely goes above minus twenty degrees Celsius, and there has only been one month of any year that did not record snowfall. Next, they were working right beside and often within inches of the current ‘hot line’ of the Trans Mountain Pipeline that was in full-time use. In many places the right-of-way paralleled the main line of the Canadian National Railway with freight and high-speed passenger trains rolling through at all hours of the day and night. There were high tension power lines in the area as well as a main east-west highway with truckers and tourists all interested in what was going on. It was not a regular forest harvesting operation.
When asked this important question, because other than a couple of small bulldozers Chinook Cove had nothing else on this job site but Volvo tracked forestry carriers and a Volvo A30D articulated hauler, Don Matthew was quick with the answer, “I was a Cat man before and I lost my machines in the Barriere, British Columbia forest fire (2003) and I couldn’t get anyone to even talk to me about machine replacement. Then one day I dropped by Great West Equipment in Kamloops (Volvo Construction Equipment’s dealer group) and both Volvo and Great West were fantastic. They had a Volvo forestry excavator on my job site in just a few days. I didn’t know very much about Volvo but I very quickly became a huge fan.”
That first summer, Don worked that first Volvo EC210B FX very hard. He was flipping stumps on a mountainside preparing the area for reforestation. The days were long, hot and the working conditions very difficult. “The first thing I noticed was the fuel economy. I couldn’t believe how easy this machine was on fuel. And the comfort of the cab. It was just great. I worked that first machine for two years and didn’t have to do a thing to it other than daily maintenance. It got me back on my feet again.”
Quickly fast forward once again to the Trans Mountain Pipe Line job site. Don has nothing but Volvos working here. Five Volvo EC210B FX machines, all with power-clams. A Volvo EC240B FX excavator, a Volvo EC240B FX log loader, a Volvo EC210B FX processor (Don’s original Volvo with over 6900 hours on the meter) and a Volvo A30D articulated hauler. “We haven’t even had a hint of a problem with any of them. Every Volvo has performed and worked flawlessly. The environmental inspectors are even leaving us alone.”
Chinook Cove Contracting Ltd. wrapped up the Jasper Park portion of this gargantuan project in March. Based on their performance, Don and his Chinook Cove team are just waiting for the cold weather to return before moving their Volvo forestry fleet to start work clearing the way for the next leg of the Trans Mountain Pipeline construction.
World class environmental care is a core value of the Volvo Group of companies.