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Huntington slams delay on jet fuel assessment
Delta-South MLA Vicki Huntington is criticizing the B.C. government for delaying the environmental assessment for Vancouver International Airport’s fuel delivery project until after the spring election.
On Monday, Environment Minister Terry Lake suspended the environmental assessment of the controversial jet fuel pipeline until the summer, the second time he has done so.
“After a six month delay, we had a right to expect an end to this disastrous south arm fuel terminal proposal,” said Huntington in a statement released Tuesday (Feb. 26). “Instead, the government issues a statement saying they need to study more information. All I can say is if they haven’t figured that out by now, this province is in deep trouble.”
The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC), a consortium of commercial airlines, wants to build a marine terminal on the south bend of the Fraser River. The proposal would give airlines access to fuel transported by barges to the terminal and then pumped to the airport via an underground pipeline.
Lake said the province is now consulting an independent expert to ensure B.C.’s interests are met in the current environmental review, which began in 2009. Ministry officials will also attend a three-day symposium running March 25-27 that will bring together experts in land-based spill response.
Citizens’ groups opposing the project like VAPOR argue barges transporting fuel on the river would threaten the fragile and ecologically sensitive estuary.
“We cannot hide our delight and sense of accomplishment with this latest suspension by Minister Lake,” said Carol Day and Otto Langer of VAPOR in a statement released Tuesday.
VAPOR has argued in favour of a land-based pipeline option that would eliminate the risk of an oil spill in the Fraser River.
VAFFC also responded to the government’s news late Monday with a statement.
“The safety and environmental protection on the Fraser River is a top priority,” said Adrian Pollard, project director. “We understand that before the government makes a decision on our project, it wants to complete work that it began last year on spill response regimes covering land-based spills and marine spills that may impact B.C. shorelines.”
Last year, Huntington delivered a 5,000-signature petition to the B.C. legislature opposing the fuel terminal.
“We need to set limits to risk,” said Huntington. “Navigating fuel on such a large scale through the environmentally-fragile Fraser River delta is a recipe for ecological disaster.”