Richmond opposed to airport jet fuel delivery proposal

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The Vancouver airport Fuel Delivery Project will involve fully-loaded tankers up to 950 feet in length regularly sailing up the South Arm of the Fraser River to southeast Richmond.

Upon each tanker’s arrival, the jet fuel will be piped to a storage tank one kilometre away. From there, it would travel 15 km to the airport through a pipeline running diagonally across Richmond.

City council has steadfastly opposed this proposal from the outset because of the many economic, social and environmental risks to Richmond and surrounding areas. The province is due to make a decision on whether to grant the environmental assessment certificate by the end of February.

Richmond strongly believes the project is motivated by the airlines’ business desire to fully control the supply of jet fuel rather than any time-sensitive need. Currently, jet fuel is supplied through a pipeline that runs from north Burnaby to Richmond. This source is supplemented by tanker trucks coming from the Cherry Point refinery in northwest Washington.

The proponents acknowledge there is additional, unused delivery capacity in the existing jet fuel line. The applicants’ flight and passenger projections demonstrate that when combined with additional available storage, the projected jet fuel needs of the airlines could be met for decades to come.

Consultants estimate twinning the Burnaby pipeline could meet projected jet fuel consumption needs at least until 2027 at about one-third of the capital cost of the proposal.

Prime habitat for birds is located in Richmond. Jet fuel will be off-loaded perilously close to environmentally sensitive areas on both sides of the river. Despite repeated requests, there has been no satisfactory plan developed to address potential environmental impacts should there be a major spill in these sensitive areas.

Additionally, jet fuel will be unloaded close to residences, businesses, recreation facilities, industries, agricultural operations and within reach from Ste-veston, the largest commercial fishing port in Western Canada. Each could be detrimentally affected in the event of a disaster.

The tank storing up to 80 million litres of jet fuel represents an obvious fire risk at a location far removed from any of the city’s existing fire halls. To provide basic protection, a new fire hall and a water-based firefighting vessel all with specialized equipment and personnel would be required.

The province should not grant the environmental assessment certificate.

Malcolm Brodie Mayor of the City of Richmond
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