Jet fuel pipeline and tank proposal for YVR airport a critical Metro Vancouver regional issue

There is a lot of talk now about the Enbridge pipeline proposal across northern BC. But now it’s time to look under the hood and see how jet fuel gets to the planes we use to fly people and cargo in and out of the Metro Vancouver region.  Consider the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project.

A consortium of airlines is asking for an oil offloading facility to be built on the south arm of the Fraser River for jet fuel. This would mean tankers bringing jet fuel into the mouth of the Fraser. Environmental damage from a spill could be huge.

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Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC, is proposing a marine terminal on the south arm of the Fraser River, an adjacent fuel storage facility, and a 15 kilometre pipeline to YVR Airport to meet future demand for fuel there. Meanwhile, VAPOR, a citizens’ group created in 2011 (Vancouver Airport Pipeline Opposition for Richmond is speaking out with concerns about environmental and safety hazards and is calling for other specific options. Richmond City Council has also come out against the proposal. Several other fuel delivery options are possible if this one is rejected.

The BC Environmental Assessment Office currently holds the keys to the decision on this proposal, with public comments accepted until February 1.
(To view public comments already posted click here.)

VAFFC is holding a public Open House on this issue: January 28 (Saturday) 2012, from 10 am to 2 pm, East Richmond Community Hall, 12360 Cambie Road, Richmond BC.

But from a telephone interview today with Carol Day, spokesperson for VAPOR, it appears that this Office has turned down only two proposals in the past ten years. The BC Minister of the Environment is reportedly not willing to meet with VAPOR representatives until after the environmental assessment process is over. Other players in the game should include the Government of Canada, as the proposal affects land, a river, and an airport under federal jurisdiction, but they are apparently staying away from the issue.

What are the views of other municipalities in the region that depend on YVR? Especially the City of Vancouver, which seeks to be the Greenest City in the World, and whose citizens are big users of YVR airport. Under Vision Vancouver, the city recently adopted the Greenest City Action Plan last year.

And what about Metro Vancouver? Where are the voices of elected officials representing 24 local governments on the Metro Vancouver board, which recently adopted a Regional Growth Strategy? Goal #3 of the RGS is to protect the environment and respond to climate change impacts. Goal #5 is to support sustainable transportation choices. (The Board of directors meets next on January 26.)  Metro Vancouver also adopted an Ecological Health Action Plan (EHAP) in 2011. Metro Vancouver’s Sustainability Framework commits Metro Vancouver to “protect and restore an interconnected network of habitat and green space, account for ecosystem services, and enhance the connection between people and nature.”

MetroVanWatch comment: Yes, the planes need to fly and economic costs need to be controlled, but how can these needs be balanced with the need for safety, environment protection, sustainability, and peace of mind? Right now is a short window of opportunity for a good public debate. Public awareness and involvement in this discussion will help ensure that those entrusted to decide will make a wiser decision, balancing all the issues and earning the public trust. We encourage people to send in their comments to the Environmental Assessment Office, and take other actions below. We also encourage people to express their views to the media, to your own municipal mayors and councillors, and to provincial and federal authorities. The benefits of a good decision will cover the whole region. Conversely, costs (including costs of disasters) will directly affect the local area, but the implications are important for the whole region too. This is an issue for the whole Metro Vancouver region.



  1. Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC), a not-for-profit company owned by a consortium of commercial airlines representing most of the domestic and international carriers serving Vancouver International Airport (YVR), owns and operates fuel storage and distribution facilities at YVR.
  2. The Environmental Assessment Office “is a neutral agency that manages the review of proposed major projects in British Columbia, as required by the Environmental Assessment Act. The environmental assessment process provides for the thorough, timely and integrated assessment of the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage and health effects that may occur during the lifecycle of these projects, and provides for meaningful participation by First Nations, proponents, the public, local governments, and federal and provincial agencies.”
  3. A similar jet fuel pipeline project was rejected after a federal review in 1998.
  4. This triangular property lies upstream from the George Massey tunnel and the Fraser River estuary that includes the Reifiel National Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Alaksen National Wildlife Area, plus the Sturgeon Bank and South Arm Marshes Provincial Wildlife Management Areas. Source:
  5. VAPOR’s Carol Day wrote this in letter to the editor of Richmond Review:”The real issue here: why would Air Canada, West Jet, Air China and others condone building a Jet fuel system that is predicted by the VAFFC to have jet fuel spills into the Fraser River? Why would these airlines push the worst environmental option when better options have been studied? The answer is simple: money. The airlines want to buy jet fuel as cheaply as they can and are ignoring the professionals such as Environment Canada which state that, “The project could present a new and unacceptable risk to the locally, nationally and internationally important fish and wildlife populations of the Fraser River Estuary…”


  1. Send in your comments to the BC Environmental Assessment Office before February 1, 2012:
  2. View public comments already posted:
  3. Go to the VAFFC OPEN HOUSE on this issue: Jan 28 (Sat), 2012 10 am to 2 pm, East Richmond Community Hall, 12360 Cambie Road, Richmond BC.
  4. Send comments and opinions to local, provincial and federal representatives, for example, BC Minister of environment – Hon. Dr. Terry Lake (, BC Premier – Hon. Christy Clark (
  5. As employees, customers or concerned citizens, write to the airlines and urge them to abandon this pipeline proposal and look at better options. VAPOR is promoting Option 3 (a plan to upgrade the  existing  pipeline to the Burnaby refinery) and Option 8 (to run a pipeline to the Cherry Point refinery south of the border).


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2 Responses to Jet fuel pipeline and tank proposal for YVR airport a critical Metro Vancouver regional issue

  1. Fuel tankers in the Fraser River is unacceptable.

  2. Pingback: Heads up: Metro Van board special meeting, workshop, 2012 strategic session Jan 26-27 (Chilliwack) | MetroVanWatch

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