LETTER: VAPOR has it wrong
Re: VAFFC not worth the risk, Feb. 28
The letter from VAPOR regarding the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project contains errors and assertions that must be corrected.
The project is needed because the existing fuel delivery system is operating at capacity and is unsustainable. It consists of deliveries through a 43-year-old, 40-km pipeline from Burnaby supplemented by about 1,000 tanker trucks a month from the U.S. which travel through Delta on their route. Contrary to what VAPOR says, the truck deliveries are required. Without them, planes will not fly. And without our project, any growth in fuel demand at YVR will depend on more cross-border fuel truck shipments to keep planes flying. Our project will replace the existing system with modern infrastructure having a smaller physical and environmental footprint and superior long-term performance. It includes a deep-water marine terminal, storage facility and a 15 km pipeline. It will require only three to five vessel deliveries each month, with none of the vessels larger than ships currently transiting the river. Each vessel will be double hulled, escorted by tugs and will have trained river pilots on board. It will also eliminate the truck deliveries through Surrey, Delta and Richmond.
VAPOR cites the last 10 years in asserting that passenger traffic through YVR is flat. That decade included the impacts of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the SARS epidemic and the worst recession since the Great Depression. Despite these significant global events, passenger traffic increased slightly over the period. And if the last 20 years are considered, passenger traffic at YVR increased by nearly 80 per cent, from 9.9 million people in 1992 to 17.6 million in 2012. While historical data is important, the airport and airlines need to plan decades out, and all forecasts show steady increases in passenger traffic. Our project is designed to meet this need long into the future. Also contrary to what VAPOR claims, we and the shippers are required by law to carry insurance. In the very unlikely event of a spill, a comprehensive statutory regime is in place to ensure timely and effective spill response, remediation and compensation. That regime is backed by substantial compensation funds in addition to the primary insurance funds carried by vessels and marine terminal.
All the concerns identified by the City of Richmond – notably with respect to marine and pipeline safety, pipeline routing, emergency response planning and an analysis of the other options – have been reviewed in depth through the rigorous four-year joint federal-provincial review of the project. The review record demonstrates that the project benefits are significant from a social, environmental and economic perspective and the risks are low. Further, despite what the city says, the review did not conclude that a fire boat or a new fire hall is required. Public safety and environmental protection are fundamental priorities for our project. It will be built to modern building, seismic, fire, and environmental codes to achieve the highest levels of safety and reliability.
The new fuel delivery system will contribute to YVR’s growth, strengthen its position as a gateway of choice for airlines, and allow it to continue as a strong economic generator for Richmond, the province and Canada.
Project Director, VAFFC