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Jet fuel pipeline proponent shelves review again

The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office has suspended a review of a jet fuel pipeline proposal for the second time.

The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation made the request to allow more time to investigate potential effects of a spill.

The suspension of the review began March 7. It could take up to 90 days to complete the new work, said project director Adrian Pollard, who said Environment Canada is requesting the further study.

"This information will further the overall understanding of fuel behaviour and mitigation measures to be put in place," said Pollard in a statement Monday.

Pollard noted Environment Canada made the request for more information through Port Metro Vancouver—the authority representing the federal government in the environmental review.

"This is all part of the joint provincial and federal review process and a good illustration that the process works."

One year ago the airlines consortium made a similar request of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, to plan an alternate pipeline route to connect an 80-million-litre tank farm in Riverport with the airport.

If built as proposed, Panamax-class vessels would deliver fuel to a marine terminal on the Fraser River's South Arm, and connect to a pipeline routed along either Highway 99, No. 5 Road or Shell Road.

A group critical of the plan said the review's suspensions are a result of complaints raised by its members and other concerned residents.

"This latest suspension of the process could now make this 180 day review process into a multi-year review process as they attempt to patch up shortcomings in their proposal to make it appear more palatable to the public," said Carol Day.

Day, chair of the Vancouver Airport Pipeline Opposition for Richmond group, or VAPOR, said instead of simply rejecting the project, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is allowing "constant moving of the goal posts."

VAPOR's greatest concern is the possibility of tankers entering the Fraser River and spilling jet fuel into a sensitive estuary.

The group is instead advocating for a pipeline linking the airport with local refineries, eliminating the need for Panamax-class vessels in the river.

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