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Court asked to wade into jet fuel approval

VAPOR has filed for a judicial review of proceedings that led to environmental certificate being given to aviation fuel delivery plan

Citing inadequate public consultation and unacceptable threats to public safety and the environment, the grassroots environmental group VAPOR is taking the provincial government to court over the decision by the BC Environmental Assessment Office to allow a jet fuel storage facility and pipeline to be built in Richmond.

“Given the current provincial and federal governments, we can no longer depend upon our environmental review and protection agencies to adequately protect Canada’s crucial environmental habitats, including the Fraser River estuary,” stated a news release from the group.

On April 25 VAPOR filed for a judicial review of the proceedings that led to an environmental certificate being granted to the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation, an airlines consortium that has advocated for easier, cheaper access to jet fuel.

The judicial review takes aim at the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and the BC Environmental Assessment Office.

Former federal fisheries biologist and long-time activist Otto Langer, speaking on behalf of VAPOR, said public consultation was limited or, in some cases, non-existent for the project.

“When you’re going to consult, consult in a meaningful way and don’t leave it to industry to conduct a flawed process,” said Langer, noting numerous studies were released on the issue after public comment was closed in February 2012 and when comments were open, the public wasn’t given a reasonable opportunity to review the materials.

“We’re back to 1965,” said Langer of the environmental review process, adding one of the biggest problems is that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is but a shell of its former self.

VAPOR stated such legal action is an “exhausting undertaking” and urged the municipalities of Delta and Richmond, as well as First Nations and anyone else interested in opposing the pipeline, to join the court proceedings.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the city has not “resolved to take any legal action at this point,” while noting it would likely do so on its own accord if action was under consideration, which at this point it is not.

At issue is the plan by VAFFC to store up to 80 million litres of fuel near the Riverport entertainment and recreation complex. From there, the fuel would be delivered via a pipeline, mostly along Highway 99.

The storage facility would contentiously require tankers to run up and down the Fraser River, thus posing a spill risk.

“The Fraser River and its estuary are crucially important for the sustainability of British Columbia salmon and home to globally significant populations of bird, plant, and animal life,” stated VAPOR.

Jet fuel is presently delivered by truck from Washington State as well as through an existing pipeline connected to a marine terminal on Burrard Inlet.