The Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) has submitted another late study to rationalize the "truthiness" of the "low impact" of transporting large Panamax tankers with highly flammable and toxic jet fuel into the Fraser River, where they will then unload it and store it in a large tank farm on the south banks of the river upstream of a shipping bottleneck in the river - the George Massey Tunnel.
The VAFFC has again shown unmitigated gall and effrontery to claim that the "unmitigated absolute worst case spill" of toxic and flammable jet fuel into the Fraser River estuary is only 40,000 barrels or 6.36 million litres.
How can this be when the combined capacity of a 70 per cent laden Panamax tanker unloading at the proposed marine terminal and the 80-million-litre tank farm is over 817,000 barrels or 130 million litres? This is over 20 times more than the figure they used their latest submission.
The combined stored combustible and explosive energy in the tank farm and a Panamax tanker is equivalent to more than one million tons of TNT. The condos, 400 metres away from an exploding and burning Panamax tanker and tank farm, would be devastated by the searing radiant heat, flammable gas cloud, blast overpressure and flying debris. These are unacceptable risks.
Jet fuel vapours and air mixture can explode at a temperature as low as 35°C. Before any decision can be made, a System Safety Analysis must be provided to identify the worst case hazard footprints and the risk areas surrounding tanker, marine terminal and tank farm in order to determine the worst case number of deaths and casualties that may occur.
VAFFC, BC Environmental Assessment Office and Port Metro Vancouver are ignoring this sleeping, fire breathing dragon in the room. They have not provided a System Safety Report similar to one done for a tank farm in Los Angeles. It identifies the worst case hazard footprints and risk areas. They indicate the number of deaths and casualties that could occur at various distances from the blast and fire.
If such a conflagration did occur, consider how much jet fuel would spill into the fragile Fraser River estuary caused by the catastrophic explosions, fires and flying debris from the tank farm, tanker and marine terminal.
Surely it must be an order of magnitude more than the "unmitigated absolute worst case spill" they have assumed.
This misleading information and wrong assumption is still apparent in their "Spill Risk in the South Arm of the Fraser River" document that was submitted to BCEAO on June 1, but not posted until Nov. 19 on BCEAO's website, just after the deadline for any comments that could be submitted by members of their Advisory Working Group that includes representatives from the cities of Delta and Richmond.
This highly hazardous project with severe consequences is in the wrong place at the wrong time. YVR jet fuel needs can be met by a pipeline-only solution to existing refineries in Cherry Point, WA and Burnaby.
This would dramatically minimize the worst case consequences to the residents nearby and the fragile Fraser River estuary.
This non-harmonious environmental review process is a travesty. It must be fixed.
James Ronback P.Eng. (retired system safety engineer) Director of VAPOR