Jet fuel pipeline plan put on hold
The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office has suspended a review of a controversial jet fuel pipeline at the request of the project's director.
The review was shelved in late April for up to 120 days to allow the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) to explore an alternate route for the 15-kilometre pipeline.
“The city (of Richmond) said we should look at Highway 99 as a potential route for the pipeline and we are listening," said project director Adrian Pollard in a statement. "We are planning to meet next month with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to explore this option. It is still very early days though."
The VAFFC, a consortium of airlines, had planned to use the No. 5 Road and Shell Road corridors to link a new marine terminal with the airport. About three to five vessels would deliver fuel to the offloading terminal on the Richmond-side of the south arm of the Fraser River each month, totaling 1.4 billion litres of aviation fuel every year.
Pollard made the request for a four-month break a day after some residents announced they had formed a citizens' group to oppose the plan.
The Vancouver Airport Pipeline Opposition for Richmond (and Delta) group, or VAPOR, called on provincial officials to scrap the plan, saying it puts the environment, Fraser River and health of residents at risk.
"We're looking for you, the community, to join VAPOR in our fight against the VAFFC and stop this extremely irresponsible and hazardous plan and put pressure on all levels of government to do the right thing and deny this application," said spokesperson Carol Day.
The group would like to see the existing pipeline from a Chevron refinery in Burnaby be enlarged or twinned.
During the public comment period (which ended April 26) a number of residents from Richmond and South Delta expressed their opposition to the plan.
Mary Taitt, a Ladner resident with The Boundary Bay Conservation Committee, wrote to the EAO that the committee rejects any proposal to barge jet fuel on the Fraser River estuary ecosystem.
She continued on to write that project poses a great risk to endangered populations of salmon, eulachon and sturgeon, and said wash from large tanker traffic will erode the river's shoreline and add to sediment load.
Ursula Easterbrook from Tsawwassen submitted that the risk to the environment, residents' health and enjoyment of the Fraser River is "unacceptable."
"During it's 60 year lifetime, jet fuel tankers and barges traveling up and down the Fraser River and the Salish Sea threaten people, fishing, local wildlife, migratory birds and the sensitive estuary. A spill or collision or a fire would be catastrophic and that is not acceptable."
Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington said no proposal that puts the estuary at risk should be considered, adding she is disappointed the VAFFC was not required to put forth more than one option to be assessed.
"I think the EAO should be saying that the option presented is not one they can accept and that they would like the applicant to put in a new application suggesting further options that can be examined," she said.
B.C. government ministers were expected to make a decision on the proposal by fall following an environmental review that was not expected to exceed six months.
—with files from Kristine Salzmann