Environmental deadline of Christmas Eve increases urgency against Richmond pipeline

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Local politicians and environmental groups have not given up the fight against a proposed jet-fuel facility at the south-end of the Fraser River.

Environmental group, The Society for Vancouver Airport Fuel Project Opposition for Richmond, also known as VAPOR, has called an emergency press conference at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning at Garry Point Park.

The press conference comes on the heels of Environment Minister Mary Polak calling December 24 the set deadline for the project’s environmental assessment.

“Setting the deadline before Christmas is only bound to make one feel suspicious. There may be grounds for a legal review and who is going to be running around getting a lawyer during the Christmas holidays?” asked VAPOR member and conference organizer, Otto Langer.

Unanimous opposition from the city

Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie will present why the proposal is a contentious issue for the city of Richmond, along with MLA of Delta South, Vicki Huntington.

Richmond councilor Linda McPhail says members of council unanimously oppose the construction of a new pipeline through Richmond.

A map of Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation's proposed facility location and pipeline route. Image from vancouverairportfuel.ca
A map of Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation’s proposed facility location and pipeline route. Image from vancouverairportfuel.ca

 

“The safety concerns related to a new jet fuel pipeline [has] not yet been addressed to satisfaction,” McPhail said in an email, urging an environmental assessment be done by the federal government.

“If there [is] no alternative other than constructing a new jet fuel pipeline, then the city would prefer that it be situated on the North Arm of the Fraser River, closer to the airport,” said McPhail.

The proposed facility will be an expansion of an existing wharf 15 km upstream at the east-end of Williams Road in Richmond.

The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation purchased the wharf in 2007.

The VAFFC’s proposal includes a large marine terminal and a fuel receiving facility, which includes six above-ground steel storage tanks with a total capacity of about 80 million litres of fuel. The fuel will then be transported to YVR either by trucks or a new pipeline.

Lack of public consultation

“What people really want to comment on is whether we want super tankers in the Fraser River. Do we want six six-story storage tanks on the edge of the river and a loading facility that’s 400 metres from condominiums and the Silvercity complex? It’s a lot. In this modern era of government consultation and openness there is no government consultation and openness,” said Langer.

Dan Stuart, a local Steveston resident and former gas-turbine technician at YVR, also feels like there is a lack of public consultation on the part of the provincial government when it comes to environmentally-sensitive projects.

“I have a bunch of questions. I would like to see a public forum,” Stuart said, adding that he thinks information available to the public regarding the project has been scarce.

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Environmental group VAPOR has hung signs along the dykes in Richmond opposing jet fuel transportation on the Fraser River.
Photo by: Jacqueline Langen

 

Reported by James McLaughlin and Jacqueline Langen

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