Archive for the ‘Fraser Estuary’ Category

The Fraser Estuary is trending well

June 14, 2017

There’s a promising trend for the Fraser Estuary, the union of mighty river and Salish Sea that begot the Richmond islands, much of Delta and more.

A citizens group and Ecojustice, along with Surrey and New Westminster, recently took the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to court. They are aiming to prevent the barging of immense amounts of thermal coal through the estuary. While we wait for a decision, we’re spared the hazards of dirty coal, and we can read an informative report here.

Another dire threat from the port is their proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2, a new artificial island of fill in the mouth of the estuary. (Click image for larger version.)
A federal review panel for the Terminal 2 plan keeps asking tough questions—this month with a focus on marine life. I’m impressed.

The port has announced that it’s now less intent on dredging the Fraser ship channel deeper. That may be part of the port’s strategy to get Terminal 2 approved, but it’s also an opportunity to stop harm to the estuary.

(Note: If the port doesn’t have to include the environmental impact of dredging as a “cumulative effect” of projects in the estuary, it has a better chance of getting Terminal 2 approved. After that assessment by review panel, the port could consider deeper dredging again.)

We trust a new government will listen well and sift through the old one’s half-decade of Massey Replacement content to find what’s ideal for transportation, safety and the environment.

They could revive the pre-Christy plan with extra insights.

The “Expanding the Tunnel” graphic shows the essence of it, with the eco-excellent “Green Tube” providing two new lanes.

That and the four-lane “Legacy Tube” would comprise the expanded Massey Tunnel in the Highway 99 corridor.

However, it could be best to place the Green Tube upriver, further east, as a new tunnel.

In that case, it could connect with Richmond’s Nelson Road, which leads into Highway 91, with just a minimal effect on farmland.

Either way, the aim is to increase the transit capacity by two lanes. (The Green Tube may not be directly used for transit but enables it.)

At least to begin with, Rapid Buses are the likely mode, planned long ago.

The Green Tube is the urgent need. Done fast and well, it could initially divert traffic from the Legacy Tube to expedite the many overdue and near-due renovations. (Legacy lanes could close for the work, a pair at a time.)

After the external phase of the seismic retrofit, that would entail refurbishing of the Legacy Tube with a new ventilation system, installing of ceramic tile throughout, renewal of the in-tunnel transmission line, and other refinements.

Beyond the tunnel, the renewal would include the seismic retrofit of highway approaches, as well as better overpasses and interchanges. That is described in the Phase 2 Guide for the Massey Project and shown here. (Click to enlarge.)

I’ve addressed the obvious, but the new government may do better. Perhaps, for example, they’ll work with the port toward extended operating hours that help reduce the route-clogging port traffic at peak hours.

A fast-tracked BC environmental assessment would be great. The previous Massey Replacement assessment seemed to skirt the process, but I picture this one embracing it.

In short, we humans are getting in tune with the estuary. Hurray!

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Notes: This blog includes an extensive Massey Project section.
For an overview of threats to the estuary, see Let the Fraser Live.

Crisis point for the Fraser Estuary

April 10, 2017

Choosing to save the Fraser Estuary and the wild salmon means choosing to expose and repel the Big Lie Technique.

It is epitomized by the “No plans to dredge” mantra in the Massey Tunnel removal issue.

Here’s one more try to combat the Big Lie.

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Imagine yourself on a spring day five years from now. You’re relaxing in the shade with a sunny view of the Fraser Estuary. Out of the blue, you hear an unseen creative power: “Either keep this as the world’s great salmon river or dredge it deeper to lure more shipping. You must choose.”

Of course, that’s absurd. We really can make the choice, but the time to get results is now, not years from now.

The George Massey Tunnel can still be retained, not removed with unmitigated harm to habitat and the nurture and passage of wild salmon—and orcas and more. In five years, we’ll rue bad consequences if we don’t prevent them now.

This is old news, but it may seem new because it keeps getting negated. Whenever the intent to dredge the channel for larger ships comes up, the BC transport minister or a surrogate jumps in to claim “no plans to dredge.”

In truth, the Massey project’s own 2012 discussion guide says the tunnel is “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) and points east along the Fraser River” because “many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.” Citizens keep simply stating that truth, but denials fog it.

Documents from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and Fraser Surrey Docks take further the plans to dredge deeper. With the tunnel gone, they would increase the channel depth by at least two metres to suit Panamax vessels and even some Aframax ones, bearing over 80,000 tonnes.

That doesn’t entirely conflict with “no plans to dredge,” since clear intents to dredge may not be “plans” in every sense. However, the mantra is misleading. And the tactic has been pervasive, even when the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) tried to review the Massey project.

The BC EAO report reveals that First Nations groups like the Musqueam, along with many concerned citizens, alerted the EAO about the “larger plan to dredge the South Arm Fraser River to deepen the channel and accommodate larger vessels,” with “industrialization of the Fraser River.” That was promising.

Then, in response, the transport ministry professed to be “unaware of any plans to dredge the river deeper.” And the port authority “confirmed that VFPA currently has no plans to dredge the Fraser River to create a wider or deeper navigation channel.” The EAO got fooled.

In a Business in Surrey article, FSD CEO Jeff Scott, who is forthright, has described a plan to dredge a little deeper with each annual maintenance. That way, the ship channel depth would be at least 13.5 metres deep (a two-metre increase) within five years. It would be wider too.

After tunnel removal in 2022, an influx of larger freighters and tankers would take over the Fraser. But we can still choose to save the Fraser for wild salmon and ecological riches. The last chance is the BC election, May 9.

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For a slide show on the issue, view Let the Fraser Live!

For hyperlinks to the sources in this article, please see the longer related articles on this Garden City Conservation blog.

The “No plans to dredge the Fraser” plan

March 27, 2017

Dredging ship, Fraser River Pile & Dredge

Removal of the George Massey Tunnel to enable deeper dredging could begin the excruciating demise of the Fraser as the world’s greatest salmon river. In my view, truth has been another casualty.

Let’s focus on the government talking point of “no plans to dredge.” Whenever the intended channel dredging for larger ships comes out, the BC transport minister or a surrogate typically jumps in to say “no plans to dredge” or something much the same.

If you followed the Trump election campaign, you know the stratagem. There, it was “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” and “replace Obamacare with something terrific” and “never going to lose.” Mantras got drummed in.

With the “no plans to dredge” mantra in the Massey project, there’s a twist that the project’s 2012 discussion guide (page 11) says the tunnel is “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks and points east along the Fraser River” because “many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.”

Documents from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (in a 2013 letter to the Massey project director and in the 2013 president’s report) and from Fraser Surrey Docks express proposals to dredge deeper. With the tunnel gone, they would increase the channel depth by at least two metres to suit larger vessels, some over 80,000 tonnes.

One could say that doesn’t entirely conflict with “no plans to dredge,” since intents to dredge may not be “plans” in every sense. Still, the mantra is misleading.

In 2015 the port authority agreed to Fraser Surrey Docks revising its plans for its thermal coal shipping terminal so it could load large ships (at least Panamax). Since they could only reach the terminal after tunnel removal and deeper dredging, it is obvious that both the port and FSD were planning on the dredging.

Later, the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) report on the Massey project (pages 122) has revealed that the public and Musqueam Indian Band, among others, expressed concerns to the EAO about “a larger plan to dredge the South Arm Fraser River to deepen the channel and accommodate larger vessels,” with “industrialization of the Fraser River.”

But the transport ministry claimed, in response to the EAO, to be “unaware of any plans to dredge the river deeper” (EAO report, page 123). And the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) “confirmed that VFPA currently has no plans to dredge the Fraser River to create a wider or deeper navigation channel” (EAO page 123).

Since the BC Environmental Assessment Office is toothless in this situation, it had to go along with the ministry’s plea it didn’t know anything and the port’s plea it wasn’t planning anything.

“Plan” or not, the documented proposal is to dredge deeper (and wider) in five annual stages. FSD has proposed to simply dredge a little deeper while doing the annual maintenance of the shipping channel. If the project stays on schedule, with tunnel removal in 2022, that step would enable the channel to be used at the new depth of at least 13.5 metres.

In a further twist, the BC EAO report adds, “VFPA also noted that projects proposing new dredging to accommodate vessels that are larger than what the existing channel was designed to accommodate . . . would be subject to review under VFPA’s Project and Environmental Review process” (EAO page 123).

Translation: “Dredging for larger ships will actually occur after all, and the VFPA (alias Port of Vancouver) will handle the environmental protection.” So the fox gets exclusive rights to guard the henhouse.

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Notes: See “Tunnel removal to deep-dredge the Fraser” for more documentation of the planning for deep dredging of the Fraser River ship channel. See Let the Fraser Live! for an exposé of how the situation came to this. See “Transport minister’s myth-busting mission” for an alternative perspective (different from this blog’s).

Update, September 26, 2017: On the very day of the televised leaders debate for the 2017 BC Election, Premier Christy Clark has suddenly found a reason to ask Prime Minister Trudeau to ban thermal coal exports from BC ports. It aims at the thermal coal from the U.S., and it would especially affect the Fraser Surrey Docks situation. Here’s the Clark-to-Trudeau letter.

Transmission project harms the estuary

March 18, 2017

Last fall, I addressed the Massey transmission line issue on this blog. Electric power lines, secure in the tunnel in working condition, were to be junked. New lines would be suspended over the Fraser from towers 120 metres tall.

Beyond the trees, the rendering shows a grey 75-metre tower and red 120-metre tower for electric-power transmission lines to replace the ones in the George Massey Tunnel.

The effect would be massive clutter, with no evident benefits for Richmond. So Richmond council firmly objected.

But the BC government simply priced the power-line project at $76 million and prodded BC Hydro to go full speed ahead with it. Hydro did as told, even though the consultation guide had said it could start after bridge construction began, if need be.

That same BC government likes to describe how much Richmond has been consulted on this issue and related ones, but consultation without heeding is nothing.

So why the hurry? The Sun’s Vaughn Palmer thinks it’s because “Christy Clark promised after the last election that construction would be underway before the next one.”

It’s that and more. Near-ready towers before Election Day could give voters the impression it’s too late for a new government to revisit the Massey options.

For sure, speeded-up tower work makes it harder to build another tunnel tube beside the existing one, since the tower foundations would block the new-tube route on one side.

On the bright side, it may prompt voters thinking about the Massey project to realize that it’s a tunnel removal project. The key word is “removal.” The intent is to remove what the project has called “an impediment” to bigger ships going upriver and back.

Transporting LNG, they’d put residents of Richmond and Delta at risk with substandard LNG safety. And they’d transport Wyoming thermal coal, via Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD), that US ports refuse to handle.

FSD proposals require that the deep-sea ship channel be dredged to a depth of at least 13.5 metres. That’s at least two extra metres, which is a lot. Channel widening, with still more dredging, would be needed too.

The ecological effects of deep-dredging the 34-kilometre channel each year would be devastating, especially since several other ecologically risky projects are planned or in progress. Only the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project is getting a federal review.

In contrast, the Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP) harmonized the estuary’s ecology, economic development and quality of life for twenty years, and it was bolstered by federal willingness to do environmental reviews.

Then, in 2013, the Harper government handed it over to Port Metro Vancouver, an agent of industrializing—and deadening—the Fraser. That typifies the problem.

The Trudeau government promised to fix the problem. We’ll see.

For now, moving a transmission line from the tunnel to towers may seem like a local detail, but keeping it in the tunnel would have welcome ripple effects for the estuary. And every battle matters in the Fraser’s fight for life.

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This article was also published as a “Digging Deep column” in the Richmond News, March 8, 2017.

How the Massey Project comparison of options was rigged

March 13, 2017

In the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, the supposed comparison of five scenarios (supposed options) was used to eliminate almost all views other than the anointed one, Scenario 2, “Replace Existing Tunnel with New Bridge.” That was done in several overlapping ways, and this column shows how just one of them discredits the process for anyone who can take the time to follow what happened.

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When the project provided five scenarios, they were presumably ways to proceed that were worth considering. The scenario that appeared to receive the most public support was the obvious one. (In the map illustration below, the concept includes an added “Green Tube,” so-named because it is an environmentally friendly method.)

It had been the expected way to expand the tunnel ever since 1955, when the engineering consultants recommended it in the Fraser River Highway Crossing at Deas Island report. That obvious method was to add a tunnel tube in the tunnel corridor to expand the tunnel by at least two lanes. (See page 13 in this excerpt from the 1955 Crippen Wright Engineering Ltd. report.)

The project included that long-intended step in Scenario 4, “Maintain Existing Tunnel and Build New Crossing along Highway 99 Corridor” (Phase 2 Discussion Guide, p. 2.)

The new tube would apparently comprise two transit/HOV lanes and a multi-use path, in keeping with the Garden City Conservation Society’s proposal based on practical and conservation values.

However, the project then changed the scenario when evaluating and comparing it. In the 2014 MMK report (page 3), we see this:

Retroactively, the scenario had been changed to require the same capacity—ten lanes, etc.—as the project’s preferred one, the bridge. As you can see when you look back and forth, the new wording was thoroughly inconsistent with the scenario stated in the Phase 2 Guide.

A crucial objection to the proposed bridge expressed by Metro Vancouver and many others was that lower capacity would be better, e.g., from standpoints of regional growth and the environment. However, the change that got slipped into the MMK docuement, which got applied to all the scenarios, had the effect of eliminating such ideas from consideration. In one fell swoop, much—perhaps most—of the consultation input to the project was annihilated.

Furthermore, the MMK report made almost no other use of the project’s supposed consultation. There’s a segment that evaluates the scenarios on the basis of  community and regional planning (pp. 25–27), but the bridge option somehow comes out looking good despite the strong opposition of Richmond and Metro Vancouver. (Note: The only other consultation included is with first responders, p. 25.)

This problem appeared again in the project’s application to the BC Environmental Assessment Office which based the related part on “Evaluation of Crossing Scenarios (MMK 2014).” This means that, once again, the project made the excessive size of the bridge a requirement for the other options. That practically precluded the EAO from responding to the environmental harm of the excesses.

The project made the EAO assessment a farce, a huge waste of the taxpayers’ money. This example of supposedly comparing scenarios to choose the best one shows that the project also wasted an incredible amount of good-faith input from Metro Vancouver, local and First Nations governments, and many groups and individuals.

Announcing “Let the Fraser Live!”

March 9, 2017

Fraser Voices is sharing
Let the Fraser Live! 

It is a revealing look at government-allowed incursions on the Fraser River Estuary that are simply killing it. It ends with some solutions.

I have introduced it with “Gambling with Jokers for the Estuary” (below). You can read that or go straight to Let the Fraser Live!

It is an exposé with a positive intent, as expressed in the subtitle: “A plea to governments destroying the Lower Fraser river and Estuary.”

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Gambling with Jokers for the Estuary

Fraser River Estuary

The struggle over the ecological Life or Death of the Fraser Estuary is like a Wild West card game with a treasure on the line. It’s fitting that the form of a just-released exposé, Let the Fraser Live! resembles a deck of cards.

There are 54 cards, not the common 52, because there are Jokers to deal with. That makes the risks and opportunities even wilder.

Of course, it’s our treasure that governments and a power-wielding crown corporation could gamble away. We mild citizens don’t usually go in for gambling, but we’re most likely to lose the treasure if we sit in the shadows and don’t take part.

Fortunately, we get a much better chance to be on the winning side if we quickly study the cardsTo start, click on the word cards at any time. (And maybe save the “cards” PDF to your computer while you’re at it.)

LNG TankerTip: Reading the dozen questions that follow is an option that will likely help you to focus on the cards, if you so choose.

  1. How wide is the swath of Delta and Richmond that might be hit by the rare but explosive effects of an LNG tanker accident in the Fraser ship channel?
  1. OrcaWhat marine life is affected by tankers passing through the Fraser Estuary and Salish Sea?
  1. Why should there have been an environmental assessment about the project to ship up to eight million tonnes a year of U.S. thermal coal through that route?
  1. fox in henhouseWhy are approval processes for risky projects in the Fraser Estuary being likened to putting the fox in charge of the henhouse?
  1. Why do governments and vested interests want to destruct the George Massey Tunnel, which should be good for another 50 years or more?
  1. What did Albert Einstein say that’s worth heeding in this context?einstein
  1. Should we feel sorry for Marc Garneau, who feels powerlessness when confronted by Port Metro Vancouver, which is within his responsibilities as Minister of Transport?
  1. Does Port Metro Vancouver have too much power?
  1. healthy-foodHow does Port CEO Robin Silvester valuing of food security compare with yours?
  1. In view of the Deltaport record in meeting past business projections, is it worth dumping an island of fill into the estuary to double the container capacity?
  1. What else could the Trudeau Government do to deliver on its promise to restore and improve environmental legislation?
  1. Justin Trudeau balancing a baby on one hand. Vancouver Sun photo.What’s a simple way for citizens to have a voice in this?

With you taking part, is there Life or Death for the Fraser Estuary in the cards?

It’s a gamble that should never be happening, but at least you’re making the odds better.

Non-clueless views on the Vanity Bridge

February 22, 2017

Looking to catch a few Massey Issue views, I simply googled Massey bridge. I caught a News 1130 story, “Critic pushes to toll Massey Tunnel, instead of building new span.” Illuminating!

Nathan Pachal, Councillor, City of LangleyTo critic Nathan Pachal’s tolling idea, I’d add the wrinkle of a congestion-scaled toll on trucks—scaling from high tolls at hours when traffic in a direction is jammed to low or nil at light-traffic times. If the Roberts Bank port facilities get opened for trucks to load and unload 24/7, that may be the only toll that’s needed.

Nathan Pachal, who writes the South Fraser blog, is a Councillor of the City of Langley.

I in turn got hooked via News 1130’s Related Stories, taking this bait, “Expert says Massey replacement will cause more problems than it will solve.” Enlightening!

Simon Fraser University Professor Anthony Perl

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Expert Anthony Perl foresees the effect if the bridge gets built:

“It’s going to create more challenges for our region in trying to build the sustainable, compact growth area that people will actually benefit from. That’s a lot harder to fix once we’ve already gone down that path.”

That supports the approach to growth of Metro Vancouver’s planners and mayors. It also agrees with the planners and council of Richmond, which has a lot at stake.

Anthony Perl, PhD, is Professor of Urban Studies and Political Science at SFU.

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Susan Jones, Boundary Bay Conservation CommitteeUpdate, Feb. 22, 2017:
Susan Jones of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee is a thorough researcher of the Massey issue. Have a look at her new analyis: “The over-sized, over-priced bridge does NOT have public support.”

The best indicator of public opinion is the submissions to the BC Environmental Assessment review. Almost all the 446 written submissions showed either support or opposition for the bridge plan. While 96% were opposed, only 4% supported the plan.

Metro Vancouver mayors were opposed too— 21 out of 22.

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Mike HarcourtWhen Mike Harcourt shared his views in the Vancouver Sun and Delta Optimist, his conclusion was evident from the title “Former premier says bridge is a bad idea.” He elaborated by comparing the kinds of approaches Metro Vancouver has proposed with the one being imposed. He wrote:

These ad hoc, unilateral, provincially imposed transportation projects such as the bridge proposed to replace the tunnel are a bad way to address these challenges, a bad way to govern.

Yet, in “Bridge is best option,” transport minister Todd Stone responded:

This is simply not borne out . . . by the opinions of the thousands of consultation participants that took the time to share their views over a period of more than four years.

Any smidgeon of truth to that claim? See the facts from Susan Jones.

 

Smoking gun in the case of the vanishing tunnel

February 20, 2017

smoking gun with the elephant in the roomThis adds to the evidence of the elephant in the tunnel removal room (article below this one).

The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project’s guide for “Phase 1: Understanding the Need” adds a smoking gun to the elephant evidence.

It calls the tunnel, “an impediment to expanded trade at Fraser Surrey Docks and points east along the Fraser River.”

It adds, “This is because many of the newer ocean-going vessels are too large to pass over the tunnel.” (See page 11, which is PDF page 12.)

After lauding Port Metro Vancouver at length, the guide concludes, “A new crossing provides the opportunity to open the way to new trade expansion locations.”

In short, the project guide touts tunnel removal to enable a deeper channel for larger ships. That’s basically what BC transportation minister Todd Stone keeps denying.

If the tunnel-removal intent can’t stand up to analysis, it should be changed, not obfuscated and forced through the process under post-truth pretences.

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To get a firm grasp of the set of evidence of intentions to deep-dredge the Fraser navigation channel (tunnel removing permitting), read this article too.

Tunnel removal to deep-dredge the Fraser

February 10, 2017

Dredge ElephantMany citizens have addressed BC transport minister Todd Stone’s double-speak about the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project, but it’s still crucial to focus on the elephant in the room, the dredging aspect.

Stone recently wrote, “The province will not dredge the river as part of the project.” Of course not! First, dredging is a federal, not provincial, responsibility that is carried out by the Port of Vancouver (PoV). Second, dredging a 34 km navigation channel would obviously not be part of a tunnel-bridge project. (It would, however, be enabled by the tunnel-bridge project.)

salish-seaBeyond the doublespeak, the dredging is a pivotal factor in the threatened future of the Fraser Estuary, as well as the Fraser River and Salish Sea. And facts matter.

Dredging the navigation channel deeper than the current 11.5 metres—for safe clearance above the tunnel—has long been proposed. The proposals go back to at least 2006, in the Pacific Gateway Strategy Action Plan(See page 20, which is PDF page 32.)

Along with that, PoV has been sure since September 2012 that deeper dredging would entail removing the tunnel. (Adding depth by dredging the protective layer of sand above the rock ballast and tunnel was known to be unsafe by then. See Deep Dredge Appendix 1.)

In April 2013, a letter from the PoV CEO to the Massey Project’s executive director urged “Replacing the tunnel with a new crossing that allows larger vessels to access industrial sites along the river.” (See Deep Dredge Appendix 2.)

Jeff Scott of Fraser Surrey DocksFraser Surrey Docks (FSD) operates the main Fraser cargo terminal, and FSD CEO Jeff Scott is clear: “We’ve proposed a five-year project, which would take us to 13.5 metres in steps over that period” (Business in Surrey, June & July 2013—see Deep Dredge Appendix 3).

Robin Silvester, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority CEOThe October 2013 PoV President’s Report by CEO Robin Silvester (Deep Dredge Appendix 5)) says 13.5 m would enable the fleets for dry or liquid bulk (dilbit, LNG, US thermal coal, etc.) “to transit the river fully laden.” That would include Panamax vessels of up to about 80,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT) and some Aframax vessels, even larger.

Since the other rationales for a bridge are weak, tunnel removal is the likely reason it was chosen.

We desperately need an independent review of the costs and benefits of all aspects of the proposed tunnel removal, including triggered proposals like the deep dredging. That includes ongoing economic cost and the deadening ecological cost of battering the estuary.

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Additional appendixes with supplementary information:

Deep Dredge Appendix 4, from a research report by Douglas Massey, includes a key insight in the bottom paragraph. It refers to a meeting of Feb. 2,2012 to plan a strategy for removal of the George Massey Tunnel. The participants (BC government Port Metro Vancouver, Fraser Surrey Docks, etc.) are listed in the second paragraph. The final paragraph includes Port Metro Vancouver’s response about the channel depth needed for the larger ships they envision going past the tunnel location: “the depth should be 15.5 m over 50 years and 18.5 over a 100 year period.”

Deep Dredge Appendix 6 is from the Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum 2015 report. The described “Fraser River Deepening Project” implicitly requires removal of the tunnel. Port Metro Vancouver would have some way to say the project to dredge the channel isn’t a plan to dredge the channel, but any reasonable person can see clear intent to dredge the channel (after tunnel removal).

Deep Dredge Appendix 7 is a letter from the Port of Vancouver (a.k.a. Port Metro Vancouver” and “Vancouver Fraser Port Authority”) to the BC Environmental Assessment Office, which had asked about Fraser River dredging related to environmental assessment of the “proposed George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.” In the three-page PoV letter, the relevant thirteen words are on the second page, with my yellow highlighting added. PoV wrote: “The port authority currently has no plans to create a deeper navigation channel.” They can play semantic games with “currently” and “plans,” but contrasting truth is that PoV certainly had the intent to do it. The reality is that the answer was very misleading

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Update, Feb. 16, 2017: Here is the full George Massey Tunnel Replacement project application to the BC Environmental Assessment Office. That’s 4418 pages of PDF! I find it simplest to refer to the PDF page numbers. Roughly 27 times, the application claims that “the Ministry is unaware of any plans by others to dredge the river deeper.” Unless the Ministry wears a blindfold and ear plugs, that must be false, as shown in this article (including the appendixes). 

Since the application shows that roughly a dozen Indigenous groups had expressed concerns about related dredging, the invalid consultation includes all of those groups (along with many other parties). For details, search for “dredging” from around PDF page 2248 on in the application.

Update, Feb, 20, 2017: See also “Smoking gun in the case of the vanishing tunnel,” the article above this one.

Prince Rupert or Roberts Bank Terminal 2?

November 21, 2016

propose-roberts-bank-terminal-2

We are the people of the Fraser Estuary, lucky to live on its islands. The estuary, where river meets sea, is one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. But my “Roberts Bank versus Terminal 2” article had to sound an alarm.

After that time, many of us took action by responding to the review panel for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. A federal crown corporation, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, is behind that project, which would pile 15 million cubic metres of fill into the estuary for a container-shipping site.

In the final few days of public input, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency received 283 comments to the panel from groups and individuals. Their advice ranged from a few words to 100+ pages.

Most of the contributions, including a dozen from First Nations, put the needs and gifts of nature ahead of Port Authority wants. Still, one may ask, how else can we export Canada’s resources to Asia and import more foreign products?

A Richmond resident phrased the answer as a brief request: “Please use the Port of Prince Rupert instead.” That’s best for Prince Rupert, Richmond, our region, our province and our country.

But that solution doesn’t cater to the Port Authority. After all, its main revenue is rent from our federal property under its control. It wants more land, not less control.

In any case, the federal government has known the solution since 2008, when Transport Canada brought experts together to improve the Asia Pacific Gateway. “We recommend,” they said, “that a single port authority be created to include the existing Vancouver ports plus Prince Rupert.”

And they left no doubt: “This is the only way to assure complete collaboration of Canada’s West Coast ports.”

They also asked that policy makers

  • “develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver” and
  • take a systematic approach to capacity before deciding “that a particular port must necessarily be physically larger.”

What’s more, the best current analysis shows that the combined ports can double their container capacity by 2020, without Terminal 2. That would keep them far ahead of increased business, so there’s time to amalgamate smoothly.

For its part, Prince Rupert has the space and desire to expand the capacity of its natural deep-water port. Its industrial land, shorter routes to Asia, rail synergies and top-notch reputation are promising.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority uses its “Port of Vancouver” alias to greenwash with ads about its love of the Fraser. It also laments its lack of industrial land to expand its rental holdings, such as the Harvest Power site.

Between sobs, it tries to annex two square kilometres of estuary and buys up fertile farmland like the Gilmore Farm in East Richmond at ALR prices—to rent it out at industrial rates if it can overcome our pro-ALR resistance.

The harm, especially to estuary habitat of international significance, will get beyond repair unless sanity prevails. Unconscionable.

Respond to the Environmental Assessment Review Panel re Roberts Bank Terminal 2 by Oct 28, 2016

October 24, 2016
Rendering of proposed Terminal 2, Roberts Bank

Rendering of proposed Terminal 2, Roberts Bank, Delta, British Columbia

If you have concerns about Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank, you have till Friday, October 28 to respond. (That’s until midnight, but send your comments before 9 p.m. Pacific Time to be safe.)

Email to the Review Panel, Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, Panel.RBT2@ceaa.gc.ca, with your comments in the message or an attachment.

If you’re still learning about it, you could scroll down to “Roberts Bank Terminal 2 versus environment,” the article just below this one, for background.

Also, Delta conservationist Susan Jones knows the issue better than anyone, and she has prepared this sheet of “Many reasons to reject Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank.” It’s a Word document so that it’s easy to copy and paste points—and typically then refine them for one’s comments to the review panel.

Your submission does not have to be long.  The following are two examples of short but powerful letters that have been submitted:

We wish to go on record as being adamantly OPPOSED to any further expansion of the Deltaport. Volumes have been written outlining the fact the flyway for migrating birds will be adversely affected. After it has been done, there will be little gratification in hearing those responsible say “sorry”.

The location of the proposed terminal is the best Dungeness crab grounds on the Fraser river flats. There is no way that these crab grounds can be duplicated anywhere else. This is a shame if those grounds are lost. It looks to me that Port Metro won’t give up until they turn Delta into an industrial park regardless of habitat and the environment.

On the Terminal 2 page at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, you can see various ways to follow up. One way is to look at some of the comments the Review Panel has received so far.

Please take action by mailing your comments now.

 

 

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 versus environment

October 23, 2016
Port Metro Vancouver rendering of Terminal 2 (lower left) on Roberts Bank, south of Richmond

Port Metro Vancouver rendering of Terminal 2 (lower left) on Roberts Bank, south of Richmond

Port Metro Vancouver, with its self-granted “supremacy” over Metro Vancouver and the ALR, has changed its name—to Port of Vancouver—but kept its ways. They’re not so great for our island city and estuary, the Fraser River Estuary. That’s a challenge.

A current issue is the port’s proposal for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. It would require an artificial island twice the size of the Garden City Lands. As well, aspects like a widened causeway and dredging would make the project directly harmful to wildlife and fish in a much larger area.

A B.C. Ministry of Environment guide describes what’s at stake: “Estuaries, formed where rivers enter the ocean and fresh water mixes with the saltwater environment, are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.” That’s still fairly true of ours, but the port’s empire building doesn’t help.

Fortunately, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has a review panel assessing Terminal 2. At the panel’s request, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) recently expressed its view, which is subtly scathing.

Excerpt: “ECCC concludes that there is a risk of significant adverse environmental effects to biofilm and consequently migratory shorebirds, in particular Western Sandpiper. Resultantly, the predicted effectiveness of the proposed monitoring and follow-up program is insufficient.”

And “Changes to biofilm composition at Roberts Bank have the potential to affect nutrient availability at Brunswick Point during the key spring migratory period, which could have species-level consequences to migratory birds.”

The wonder-food biofilm, along with the vast but at-risk flocks that refuel with it, is a well-known ecological factor. Yet the port brushed it off!

I should also mention that 15 million cubic metres of fill would be dumped in the estuary to form the Terminal 2 island. It’s almost impossible to find that much clean fill, and much of the fill would likely be laced with PCBs. After building up in fish, those chemicals can harm the health of fish eaters.

For British Columbia, especially Richmond and our estuary, there’s a much better alternative to Terminal 2. It could even be good for the port (as a crown corporation), with a chance to regain respect in a new role after getting too full of itself. I’ll have to save the solution for another “Digging Deep.”

For now, you know enough to become involved if you wish. If you’d like to comment to the review panel, act quickly. Deadline: This Friday, October 28.

In any case, by getting this far you’ve already done something to help. You’ve grown in awareness, and it adds up.

Basically,  you can put your comments in an email or in an attachment to the email. Then send it to Panel.RBT2@ceaa.gc.ca. For more tips and links, go to this short and helpful article.

KISS Guide to LNG on the Fraser

December 14, 2015

KISS = Keep It Simple. Succeed!

Keep It Simple — Succeed

The huge LNG expansion at Tilbury Island, Delta, could be either benign or disastrous, especially with shipping down the South Arm past Richmond. You can take steps to know whether to act and how to make a difference.

 

Best starting point?

Go to realhearings.org. On the right side of the window, look over the simplest way to send comments to the environmental assessment about Fraser River LNG. On the left side, read the first paragraph and the numbered headings.

 

Best intro to concerns?

View the Steveston presentation by Eoin Finn, PhD (Physical Chemistry). He is clear and articulate, and he is acting to serve the community. Notice that he is saying that the worst outcomes would be devastating but rare, though more likely than in the U.S. because of lower safety standards than American ones.


Best immersion in the concerns and practical action?

Come to the LNG forum at the Library, Richmond Cultural Centre. It’s at 7 pm on Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015.

Location of Richmond Library at Richmond Cultural Centre

Along with Eoin Finn, results-oriented Fraser activist Kevin Washbrook will fill you in and answer questions. Washbrook is another environmental activist who is committed to values, not personal economic gain, and his practical approach makes his idealism effective.

Blacktop parking and the two-level parkade are ample, but arrive early for a good seat (or perhaps for a seat at all). There’s access from both Minoru Blvd and Granville Ave.

Here’s how the Wilderness Committee promotes the two-hour event.

 

Follow-up for results?

Go back to realhearings.org and send input to the Environmental Assessment by the end of Monday, December 21. Then stay tuned with VTACC.org and Garden City Conservation.

 

The details: How do LNG proponents respond?

Proponent public relations person Brent Stafford of Shaky Egg rebuts in his LNG Fear Mongering video. It is an attack ad in infomercial form. As the text into puts it, “Opponents are braying. . . .” Since braying is the sound of donkeys, Stafford is saying the opponents are donkeys in order to make his case. He then characterizes them in the video as “wealthy and privileged,” which presumably makes them spoiled-brat donkeys.

Like Eoin Finn, Stafford brings in Sandia National Labs for support and actually makes Finn’s point: Stafford uses a Sandia statement that LNG tankers are safe with U.S. precautions, and Finn says that the lack of U.S.-level precautions on the Fraser is a reason that LNG tankers are unsafe there.

At the Environmental Assessment Office open house at Riverport on December 3, I spoke to many of the proponents’ advocates, who far outnumbered the public at the poorly advertised event. They said that Eoin Finn’s PhD wasn’t really in chemistry (because it’s in physical chemistry?) and that his views weren’t correct.

They weren’t able to tell me the capacity of an LNG tanker. Perhaps that’s because the ones they had to include in the plans would not have the capacity (at least 60,000 tons) they want to dredge for after getting rid of the Massey Tunnel.

They also weren’t able to give me any idea how much electricity the Tilbury plant would require. Perhaps that’s because it would be impossible without generating far more power, which gets into questions like whether they’re relying on flooding the Peace Valley to enable Site C dam power.

 

Any final thoughts?

I have noticed that Eoin Finn occasionally uses expressions with connotations that go too far. He doesn’t need to do that to make his case. Although he detracts from his own case in that way, the effect is only to weaken the case, not defeat it.

Personally I think it’s extremely important for the Environmental Assessment Office to consult thoroughly with Eoin Finn and also Kevin Washbrook, and my comments will strongly advocate that they do so.

For the Environmental Assessment Office details, go to their EAO projects page and do a search for “Wespac”.

Go to the Sandia National Labs site for an example of Sandia comments about LNG.

See you before 7 pm on Wednesday, Dec 16!