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City of Richmond still hot over jet fuel pipeline plan

Mayor Malcolm Brodie questioned the need for a new jet fuel pipeline at a news conference Tuesday morning, weeks away from a provincial government ruling on the project.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
Mayor Malcolm Brodie questioned the need for a new jet fuel pipeline at a news conference Tuesday morning, weeks away from a provincial government ruling on the project.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Senior government officials are about to get another terse letter from Mayor Malcolm Brodie's office on a familiar topic.

As the latest deadline looms for a decision on a controversial jet fuel delivery project, Richmond council is reminding political leaders it doesn't want it.

"(The) City of Richmond remains opposed to the current proposal and advocates that the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation conduct a process which fully and openly considers the economic, environmental and social aspects of any new program for jet fuel delivery to the airport," reads the motion made Monday.

Council endorsed the motion at a committee meeting after reviewing a report summarizing the city's fears. The city contends inadequate resources exist to deal with a major jet fuel spill on the Fraser River or a fire at the proposed tank farm near Riverport.

Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt said she feels angry, upset and disappointed that concerns of Richmond citizens are being ignored.

"For Richmond's concerns to be not addressed appropriately is very disappointing," said Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt.

Coun. Ken Johnston added that he believes the proposed project is "a done deal."

Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation is proposing a new way to deliver jet fuel to YVR—by barging it up the Fraser River to a new tank farm at Riverport, where it would then be transported to the airport via underground pipeline travelling along Highway 99.

Fuelling aircraft at YVR today is a half-century-old underground pipeline connecting the airport with Burnaby's Chevron refinery. Tanker trucks deliver more fuel from the Cherry Point refinery near Blaine, Wash.

Expected to cost up to $100 million, the proposed project has been reviewed by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, which referred the matter to the province one year ago for a decision. Minister of Environment Mary Polak now faces a Dec. 24 deadline to make a ruling or otherwise extend the deadline for a third time.

Following a news conference at Garry Point Park last Tuesday, at which the mayor and other opponents blasted the plan, the project's director told The Richmond Review the proposal has been through a "comprehensive environmental review process."

Said Adrian Pollard: "The project’s benefits are significant, the risks are low and the technical work completed will ensure it is built and operated safely."

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