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Province buys more time in jet fuel pipeline controversy

A consortium of airlines known as the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation is seeking approval for tankers to travel up the Fraser River, en route to a jet fuel tank farm in southeast Richmond. -
A consortium of airlines known as the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation is seeking approval for tankers to travel up the Fraser River, en route to a jet fuel tank farm in southeast Richmond.
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B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake has extended the deadline for government to decide the fate of a controversial jet fuel pipeline proposal.

Lake issued a time limit extension order Jan. 25, giving Premier Christy Clark’s government a new deadline of Feb. 25 to make a ruling on an application from Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation. The corporation, a consortium of airlines, is proposing to barge jet fuel to Riverport and pump it through an underground pipeline to the airport.

In early January Richmond council renewed its opposition to the plan, demanding a new meeting with provincial ministers Lake and Rich Coleman, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas.

"We don't want any traffic on the Fraser River. We already have many examples of oil spills up and down the coast," said Coun. Bill McNulty at the time.

The B.C. Environment Assessment Office has been handling the proposal's review since 2009.

City council doesn't have jurisdiction on the matter, yet it has still made recommendations in the event the plan is approved. Not all those recommendations, however, were given to the ministers to consider.

Those include having the proponent build and maintain a staffed fire hall close to a proposed tank farm, and supply and maintain a fire boat. The city is also suggesting local government and fire officials be given more power to monitor pipeline construction.

"The exclusion of these comments…to the ministers is substantive in terms of their future ramifications for the city," wrote Lesley Douglas, the city's manager of environmental sustainability, in a staff report.

Coun. Harold Steves has said a new meeting would allow council to reiterate its opposition to the project, which he said poses "extreme danger to the Fraser River estuary."

"We keep talking about a pipeline, but we're talking about supertankers in the river, and that part's ignored. Also, if they are going to go ahead, then we want safety for the citizens of Richmond, and that seems to be ignored as well. It's unconscionable."

A citizens' group known as VAPOR says it has nearly 6,000 names on a petition opposing the plan. Carol Day, the group's chairperson says better options include upgrading the existing pipeline or building a new one to Washington State's Cherry Point Refinery.

 

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