Letters to the Editor

When pipelines are good and when they are bad

Editor:

When are pipelines good and when are pipelines bad? In my opinion pipelines that keep toxic fuel out of our waterways are good and pipelines that bring toxic fuel to our waterways are bad.

The Enbridge Northwest Gateway dual pipeline is bad because it would move massive amounts of Alberta crude oil, as diluted bitumen, to the pristine shores of British Columbia and potentially pollute the water. Hundreds more tankers would sail through the waterways increasing the risk to the environment . Premier Christy Clark should just say no instead of opening a debate that makes it appear as though the West Coast is for sale, if the price paid is high enough.

An example of a good pipeline is a pipeline for delivery of jet fuel to the Vancouver airport from existing refineries. This is good because it would eliminate the need for tankers loaded with jet fuel in the Fraser River. VAPOR (Vancouver Airport Project Opposition for Richmond) has been working hard to convince the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation that a jet fuel pipeline to the refineries is the best and only option worth pursuing because it would safeguard the waterways and be a reliable source of fuel.

The VAFFC is owned by a group of 30 airlines including Air Canada, West jet, Air China, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, etc., who do not seem to be concerned with the objections of the City of Richmond and the people of the Lower Mainland who are adamantly opposed to this proposed project.

The VAFFC’s own proposal includes Option #3, an upgraded pipeline to the Burnaby refinery and Option #8, a new pipeline to the Cherry Point refinery in Washington, but those were dismissed by the consortium. The Cherry Point refinery already supplies 40 per cent of their jet fuel via barges to the Westridge marine terminal in Burrard Inlet and 20 per cent in tanker trucks via the highways. The airlines would rather build an 80 million-litre tank farm less than 400 metres from a condominium complex and precariously close to the water’s edge in a hazardous earthquake zone. They would rather ship Panamax tankers loaded with jet fuel down the South Arm of the Fraser River past the historic fishing village of Steveston and over the shallow Massey Tunnel. The energy stored in the tanks farm and Panamax tankers is equivalent to more than one million tons of TNT. An explosion, fire and spill would be deadly and horrific.

The airport is critical to the B.C. economy and the need for jet fuel cannot be denied but the current pipeline is not being used to its full capacity. If the VAFFC builds more jet fuel holding tanks at the airport and increases the utilization of the Burnaby pipeline, they could increase their supply and no longer require a new source for jet fuel. This would also eliminate the need for tanker trucks from the Cherry Point refinery. Better fuel management would negate the need for a marine facility on the Fraser river. But this will not happen because of money. It is cheaper to buy the fuel from the United States than from a Canadian source. Profits are more important to the Air Canada, WestJet and the other airlines than protection of the waterways and the safety of the people living near the proposed marine facility and tank farm .

We need to say no and convince the airlines and their VAFFC that it is time to abandon the current proposal and start looking at smart options such as safer and more dependable pipelines  to existing refineries.

Let’s protect our beautiful and fragile shoreline.

Carol Day

Chair

Vancouver Airport Project Opposition for Richmond

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