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New aviation fuel delivery system to serve Vancouver Airport, Canada

A new fuel supply system for Vancouver Airport, comprising a marine jet fuel facility, 80 million litre fuel tank farm and pipeline, is under construction in spite of local opposition including from VAPOR, a society supported by several organizations


On 13th December 2013 the British Columbia Government, in cooperation with Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) issued approval to the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) for construction of a marine jet fuel terminal and an adjacent 80 million litre capacity fuel tank farm on the banks of the Fraser River. The project would allow Panamax tankers carrying highly toxic and flammable jet fuel to enter the Fraser River. A report by Otto E. Langer, a fisheries biologist and aquatic ecologist, published in October 2014, noted that similar project of this type, on a much smaller scale, had been proposed by VAFFC in 1998 only to be rejected due to the threats it would pose to the estuary and its fish and wildlife resources. The new jet fuel facility proposal poses far greater environmental threats; Langer estimated that a 21 kilometre stretch of the river would be at risk from jet fuel spills. Occurrence of fuel spills would ‘jeopardize many social and environmental values in this very important Canadian river and its globally significant estuary’. The potentially affected area of the river is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of birds and ‘of extreme importance to the world’s largest salmon runs in a river system’. Other species that could be affected by the jet fuel terminal include seals that frequent the project area and California sea lions swimming up the river. Fuel spills would also impact upon commercial and First Nations fishing that takes place in the section of the river directly in front of the jet fuel terminal site.[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:New aviation fuel delivery system to serve Vancouver Airport, Canada
State or province:British Columbia
Location of conflict:Richmond
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Other
Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:aviation fuel
Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The new fuel delivery system for Vancouver Airport (YVR) will include a marine terminal and jet fuel receiving facility on the South Arm of the Fraser River and a 13- kilometre underground pipeline to the airport. The marine terminal will be able to accommodate Panamax vessels. The fuel receiving facility will include six steel above-ground storage tanks with a total capacity of about 80 million litres.[10] There are provisions to expand the fuel storage capacity to more than 100 million litres.[11] The project cost of the jet fuel receiving facility and pipeline is estimated at CAD150 million (USD112 million).[9] The new fuel delivery system will enable access to off-shore sources of fuel. A VAFFC presentation states that ‘local supply sources have diminished and airlines are becoming increasingly reliant on imported fuel to meet their needs…Domestic sources of aviation fuel cannot meet the growing needs of YVR, so access to off-shore sources will help ensure YVR can serve its airlines and passengers’.[12]

Level of Investment for the conflictive project112,365,000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:04/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) from Canada - Building a new fuel delivery system for Vancouver Airport includes a Marine Terminal and Fuel Receiving Facility on the South Arm of the Fraser River and a 13 kilometre underground pipeline to the airport
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) from Canada - Issued project permit to Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation (VAFFC) to build to build the jet fuel terminal and storage tanks in March 2016
Relevant government actors:Government of British Columbia
City of Burnaby
City of Richmond
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:VAPOR-A Society for Vancouver Airport Fuel Project Opposition for Richmond -
Musqueam Indian Band -
The Council of Canadians -
Delta Naturalists’ Society -
David Suzuki Foundation -
Fraser Riverkeeper -
West Coast Environmental Law -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Global warming, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Other Environmental impactsRisk of pollution if jet fuel spills occur
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts, Accidents
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft burning aviation fuel
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Other socio-economic impactsPotential loss of livelihood if a fuel spill damages fishing activities
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:VAFFC argued that the only alternative to the new fuel facility would be an increase in tanker truck deliveries on roads. VAPOR maintains that this is false and that there are other options:
• The current fuel provider has stated it can provide 100 per cent of Vancouver Airport’s fuel requirements and with additional fuel pumps the fuel could be delivered more quickly during peak periods.
• A possible pipeline route to the Cherry Point Refinery, double-walled, buried with the latest leak detection technology was briefly considered by VAFFC and could be the safest and most environmentally responsible option
• Upgrade and increase the capacity of the existing pipeline which has operated for over 40 years with no documented leaks or malfunctions.[13]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:VAPOR maintains that the public consultation during the environmental assessment process was inadequate. VAFFC's attempt to make VAPOR pay their court costs was an instance of corporations attempting to exert power over a relatively powerless network of concerned citizens that was attempting to increase the scope for consultation during environmental assessment.
Sources & Materials

[1] Otto E, Langer, Social and Environmental Values in the Fraser River and Estuary in the Sandheads to Annacis Island Reach, VAPOR, 15 October 2014
[click to view]

[2] VAPOR - A Society for Vancouver Airport Fuel Project Opposition for Richmond
[click to view]

[3] Re: Preliminary Comments, VAFFC Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project EA Certificate Application, Musqueam Indian Band, 22 March 2011
[click to view]

[5] PRESS RELEASE: Jet Fuel Transport and Storage in Richmond: VAPOR and Otto Langer disappointed by the decision of the BC Supreme Court regarding the Environmental Assessment of the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project, VAPOR, 25 June 2015
[click to view]

[6] PRESS RELEASE: Jet Fuel Transport and Storage in Richmond: VAPOR Society’s Objection to PMV/ VAFFC short Open House & Document release notification, VAPOR, 25 August 2015
[click to view]

[7] VAPOR Defeats VAFFC Application for Court Costs, VAPOR, 22 January 2016
[click to view]

[8] PRESS RELEASE: Port Metro Vancouver Issues Permit for Construction of VAFFC Jet Fuel Terminal and Tank Farm on the Fraser River in Richmond, VAPOR, 1 March 2016
[click to view]

[9] Beginning phase of 13 km jet fuel pipeline to YVR underway, CBC, 23 May 2018
[click to view]

[10] VAFFC, Fuel Delivery Project
[click to view]

[11] City of Richmond tackles reality of coming jet fuel facility, Richmond News, 9 September 2016
[click to view]

[12] VAFFC, Project Overview
[click to view]

[13] VAPOR, Alternative Solutions
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[4] EVK-Eveline Kay "As I leave" Fet. Yt RhyMz (Remix) Inspired by VAPOR, Evee Kay, 6 February 2014 - Music video by Vancouver artist in support of VAPOR and the campaign against the jet fuel pipeline
[click to view]

VAPOR And the Critique of VAFFC Jet Fuel Proposal, Tom Kerswell, 7 November 2011 - Chair of VAPOR, Carol Day, explains the current situation of the tank farm and marine terminal proposal and other pipeline options
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:4013
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