Open letter to Environment Minister Terry Lake and Minister of Energy and Mines, Rich Coleman,
Please consider this advice before you make any rash decision that results in an intolerable level of safety and societal risk, on whether or not to approve the VAFFC application for a jet fuel pipeline to run through Richmond.
This is a critically hazardous project. It proposes to build a marine terminal and tank farm of toxic and flammable jet fuel in the ecologically-sensitive Fraser River estuary, and next to a residential area.
A supertanker and the proposed tank farm can each hold up to 80 million litres of jet fuel that has a very low flash point at 35 degrees C. It only requires a little spark to ignite it.
As ministers, you must not ignore the awesome power of an unconfined fuel vapour air explosion that can occur at this proposed tank farm or marine terminal.
It can seriously damage the supertank-er unloading at the terminal and devastate the surrounding area on the banks of the Fraser River above the Massey Tunnel.
The unconfined fuel vapour air explosion that occurred at the tank farm in Buncefield, U.K., registered 2.4 on the Richter scale. It demolished the nearby warehouse and office building and knocked out all its windows.
The tank farm and its pumps are designed so they can simultaneously pump out jet fuel from any one of the six tanks via a pipeline through Richmond to the YVR storage tanks at the same time they are unloading a supertanker.
The jet fuel tank farm and super-tanker can each store up to 2.78 peta-joules (PJ) of energy. Thus, it is not safe to assume that the jet fuel tank farm is always empty whenever a full supertanker arrives. A half full tank farm plus a full supertanker has stored energy equal to one million tons of TNT.
There is an entertainment and sports complex nearby and condominiums only 400 metres away from the supertanker and tank farm. Allowing this project to go forward could only result from ignorance that, in some cases, is a crime.
VAFFC must seriously consider their less risky pipeline-only options to a nearby refinery, such as Cherry Point, WA, that currently supplies 65 per cent of the jet fuel via barges and tanker trucks.
Jim Ronback, P.Eng (retired System Safety Engineer) Director of VAPOR