Richmond continues to debate proposed jet fuel delivery pipeline

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      The City of Burnaby isn’t the only municipality in the Lower Mainland that has its hands full with pipeline-related issues.

      With Burnaby opposing Kinder Morgan’s planned oil pipeline expansion, Richmond city hall is also busy trying to deal with a project that will see a new pipeline built in that city.

      The pipeline will carry jet fuel from a planned tank farm at the foot of Williams Road to Vancouver International Airport. The jet fuel will be brought into the Fraser River by barges and larger tankers the length of three football fields. The fuel will be stored at a tank farm on the north shore of the south arm of the river.

      The jet fuel delivery project was proposed by the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC), a not-for-profit company owned by a consortium of commercial airlines representing most of the domestic and international carriers operating at the Vancouver International Airport.

      “We publicly and privately denounced the thought of having jet fuel streamed or tunnelled across Richmond,” city councillor Derek Dang told the Straight in a phone interview.

      In December 2013, the provincial government issued an Environmental Assessment Certificate (EAC) to the VAFFC, allowing the project to proceed.

      Construction has not started yet. Last spring, a citizens group called Vancouver Airport Fuel Project Opposition for Richmond (VAPOR) filed a petition before the B.C. Supreme Court seeking a judicial review of the EAC granted to the airline consortium.

      The court held hearings on the petition on Wednesday and Thursday (November 26 and 27).

      In the interview a few days before the court hearings, Richmond councillor Dang said, “We’ve tried very hard to talk with our provincial counterparts and our federal people to see if we can get them to, you know, take some responsibility on the areas that they represent, and say, ‘Hey listen. You know, maybe this isn’t in the best interest of the community.’”

      In a meeting on November 17, Richmond city council passed a resolution affirming its opposition to the planned jet fuel delivery project. Council also expressed support for VAPOR’s legal action to quash the project’s environmental certificate.

      According to Dang, it remains unclear what the protocols will be to deal with accidents like pipeline breaches, fuel spillage on the Fraser River, and fires at the fuel storage farm.

      “Is it an extra cost to the City of Richmond, or you folks who are doing the traveling or who are forcing the pipeline down or trying to have these types of materials floated down the Fraser River, are you going to have those situations addressed?” Dang said. “What we’ve been asking all along was, you know, if you guys are going to force us to have this, or in any case, you know, give us some documentation and assurances that…we will be safe.”

      The VAFFC didn’t make a spokesperson available for an interview with the Straight.

      According to VAPOR president Otto Langer, hearings on his group’s petition for a judicial review will resume in February 2015.

      “We have a judge who was very attentive, and she was taking detailed notes and had many, many questions,” Langer, a former biologist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, told the Straight by phone today (November 28).

      The airport’s fuel requirement is currently supplied by Chevron Canada Limited’s refinery on Burrard Inlet’s southern shore in Burnaby, and British Petroleum’s Cherry Point refinery in Blaine, Washington. About 80 percent of the fuel is brought from Burnaby through a 41-kilometre-long pipeline owned and operated by Kinder Morgan.