The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is preparing its report on a project that would see tankers the length of three football fields navigating the Fraser River.
The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation, a consortium of commercial airlines, wants to build a marine terminal and aviation-fuel storage facility on the south arm of the river, as well as a 15-kilometre pipeline that would deliver the fuel from the terminal to YVR.
The prospect of seeing massive Panamax-class tankers on the salmon-bearing river terrifies retired commercial fisher Terry Slack, who has sailed up and down the Fraser for more than 60 years.
“What worries me a lot is that my friends who are still fishing out there would have to avoid these large vessels carrying oil, and there could be a serious accident with a fish boat on the Fraser,” Slack told the Straight in a phone interview.
Slack, who leads community tours to raise awareness about the Fraser, is similarly worried about the effects of a potential spill. “If there was a spill, especially if it occurred in the spring, I think it would probably devastate a whole year of salmon coming back to the Fraser,” he said.
According to information provided to the Straight by the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the environment office is finalizing its assessment report on the VAFFC application. The minister of environment and the minister of energy, mines, and natural gas will decide whether or not the airline consortium gets an environmental assessment certificate.
The airport’s fuel requirement of 1.4 billion litres per year 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 to the airport through a 41-kilometre-long pipeline owned and operated by Kinder Morgan.
The municipal councils of Richmond and Delta have raised concerns about the proposed project.
Vancouver’s only Green councillor, Adriane Carr, indicated that she is contemplating bringing a motion to council about the planned jet-fuel facility.
“It’s a very sensitive delta and estuary, and of course Vancouver has as much interest in the maintenance of the Fraser River and its prolific salmon runs [as other municipalities],” Carr told the Straight in a phone interview.