A special independent supplement originally published by Action In Time
– by Paul George & Susan Jones –
Massive manmade island oil terminal planned for Fraser River estuary
The federal Liberal Government plans to dredge the ecologically sensitive Fraser River estuary and build a 460-acre artificial island terminal and widened causeway. Is it being built to store and export Trans Mountain Pipeline’s Alberta bitumen? Could the hidden agenda for the new Roberts Bank Terminal 2 be to supplant the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burrard Inlet where public controversy has focused on the dangers of increased tanker traffic, especially through the hazardous Second Narrows past world-renowned Stanley Park? The Terminal 2 Island will be the size of 348 football fields made from 18 million cubic metres of likely-contaminated fill. Combined with the existing 210-acre Deltaport container terminal and the 198-acre Westshore Coal Terminal, the terminals will be 868 acres, almost as big as 1001-acre Stanley Park. Plans for Container Terminal Morphing into Oil Terminal Originally, the Port of Vancouver stated the purpose for Terminal 2 was “to meet increasing forecasted demand for containerized trade on the west coast of Canada.” But new facilities underway in Prince Rupert and Vancouver will provide all the container capacity needed for decades. Additionally, most of the growth in west coast container import shipping is for U.S-bound containers. This business could easily be lost to U.S. ports. Do Canadians seriously want to destroy the Fraser Estuary to funnel U.S.- bound containers through B.C.?
Luckily, federal bureaucrats figured out another use that fits right into the plans of the Trudeau government. But first, they had to change the Terms of Reference and the Purpose for Terminal 2.
This was done at a public meeting on January 30th, 2019 where the Port of Vancouver removed container business and announced that Terminal 2 was: “to accommodate future growth in trade on behalf of Canadians.” At the same meeting, the Environmental Assessment Review Panel announced changes stating they were not required to consider if Terminal 2 is needed. Also, they could specifically consider only Terminal 2 without considering container terminals that might better serve the west coast. This contravenes the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act which requires consideration of alternative locations for a project.
Ironically, the Port of Vancouver conceals the slower growth of the Vancouver container business with statistical reports that include the faster growth at Prince Rupert. Yet the fact that Prince Rupert is already handling the growth in B.C.’s west coast container business is not allowed to be considered in this environmental assessment.
The federal government can flatly deny plans to use Roberts Bank as an oil terminal because the environmental assessment process is for a new container terminal with three shipping berths. Once approved and built, the environmental damage will have been done. Then, there can be another environmental assessment for shipping oil from Terminal 2.
A federal environmental assessment has been underway for 6 years with final public hearings in May. Unfortunately, Terminal 2 is being assessed under Harper Conservative’s gutted environmental protection laws. Under their “Real Change” plans, the Trudeau Liberals promised to restore and reinforce environmental protection but they have not delivered. They want Terminal 2 and apparently don’t care about the deadly impacts.
Scientists warn of deadly impacts to endangered southern resident killer whales
Pollution, ship collisions, noise interference, and low availability of chinook salmon are killing Southern Resident Killer Whales and preventing reproduction. Listed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, cumulative impacts from Terminal 2 could mark the death knell for the whales due to the loss of critical habitat, port and ship emissions, and deadly oil spills.
Terminal 2 will trash internationally significant ecosystems
Twenty three species of wildlife listed under the federal Species at Risk Act are known to exist within Terminal 2 and its shipping area. The Fraser estuary supports the highest concentration of migratory birds in Canada—hosting up to 1.4 million during peak migration periods. More than two billion juvenile salmon spend some weeks or months in the Fraser estuary before beginning their ocean journey. An estimated 20% once survived and thrived in the ocean to return and spawn in the stream where they were born. Now, it is estimated less than one percent return. But still, the Fraser River system is one of the greatest salmon producers on earth.
Pollution from shipping is a killer
Reports by Government scientists reveal serious cumulative impacts of increased shipping in the Fraser Estuary and the shared Salish Sea which support human health as well as internationally-significant wildlife. Ecosystems will be destroyed and altered from dredge-and-fill, anchorage sites, spills, disposal at sea, noise, light, and air pollution. Killer toxins such as PCBs and PBDEs will enter the food chain affecting humans and wildlife. Large quantities of air pollutants in the form of sulphur and nitrogen oxides and particulate matter will lead to adverse health impacts including premature death, cancer risk, respiratory illness and increased risk of heart disease.
Ottawa interferes to ensure project approval
- The Review Panel, appointed by the Federal Government to oversee the environmental assessment of the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project, is rushing its incomplete environmental assessment of the proposed project to Public Hearings to start on May 14, 2019, in Delta, B.C.
- Trudeau’s team is pushing for approval of Terminal 2 before the Federal Fall Election ignoring the fact that the public, including Indigenous groups, are on record stating insufficient information, missing information, limited scope, and failure to address cumulative effects.
Trudeau government changes terms of reference with no public input
Members of the public are expressing shock at interference from the Trudeau Liberal Government as Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced changes to the Terms of Reference on March 8th when it is too late for the public to have meaningful input.
Competitor takes Port of Vancouver and the Government of Canada to court over Terminal 2
- Deltaport Container Terminal is adjacent to the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2. The Deltaport Operator, Global Container Terminals Inc. (GCT) has filed two Applications for Judicial Review of Terminal 2. GCT claims the Project was rushed to Public Hearings without complete information. They claim the Port of Vancouver and Government of Canada have not complied with the legal requirements of the Terms of Reference.
- The Deltaport operator has been betrayed by the Port of Vancouver which manages their lease. If Terminal 2 proceeds, the container competition will lead to job losses at Deltaport but the Port of Vancouver doesn’t care about its tenants. It just wants more property as it now operates to build up real estate assets with high returns instead of managing shipping and trade for the benefit of Canadians. The Port of Vancouver is a rogue organization exploiting Canadian assets with no oversight.
Scientists are muzzled
The Port of Vancouver has submitted so-called scientific reports but they are paid by the port and are not peer- reviewed. At the same time retired civil servants reveal that reports by government scientists have been stalled , vetted and altered by bureaucrats in Ottawa.
There are strong indications future plans for Terminal 2 could be for Trans Mountain Pipeline Oil or for export of LNG from the expanding Tilbury LNG plant 21 kilometres up river from the Fraser Estuary.
Trudeau doesn’t want to hear from you but we do
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has made it effectively impossible for the general public to make submissions to the Public Hearings for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. To offer your opinion, go to the website of Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary: www.againstportexpansion.org. Click on ‘Have Your Say’, Scroll down and click on “send email” Then send an email with your comments and concerns. The organization will submit your comments to the federal government. Let them know what you think about the process and the proposed Terminal 2 project.
National Energy Board ruling has scary implications for Roberts Bank Terminal 2
Politicians, federal bureaucrats, and the Port of Vancouver want this terminal and have worked hard to avoid a credible environmental assessment of all the cumulative effects of projects and related infrastructure that have been built since the building of the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in 1958. This has resulted in years of degradation of the Fraser Estuary despite numerous reports warning of significant environmental damage. So they are delighted with the National Energy Board’s (NEB) approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline on February 22, 2019, in spite of acknowledging significant adverse environmental effects.
The NEB states that shipping the oil from the Trans Mountain Pipeline “is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects on the Southern resident killer whale”…and …”The Board also finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the Project-related marine vessels would result in measurable increases and, taking a precautionary approach, are likely to be significant.”
However, the NEB concluded that the Salish Sea “is not the healthy environment it once was.” Therefore, increasing the number of oil tankers from 60 to over 400 a year is okay because they represent “a relatively small increase in total vessel traffic” and the “incremental addition to cumulative effects on the Salish Sea will not be large, it will add to already significant effects.”
Shifting the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s export facility to Roberts Bank could deflect the opposition of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, whose main reserve lies directly across Burrard Inlet from Westridge Marine Terminal. It could also deflect the opposition of the City of Vancouver. Maybe Trudeau’s pet project fiasco would be salvaged. On the pretext of needing a new container terminal, the Federal Environmental Assessment review for Terminal 2 Project is on fast-forward and now is almost completed.
If Terminal 2 is used for containers, it will double the congestion, air pollution, and noise. Truck traffic will increase from 4500 truck trips daily to 9,600.
To learn more about Roberts Bank Terminal 2 go to the website: www.againstportexpansion.org
1 thought on “Secret purpose of proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 revealed”
What audacity and ignorance.
Of course, never mind the ultra-critical Fraser Estuary sand banks and mudflats in the Boundary Bay – Roberts Bank – Sturgeon Bank area that sustain seasonal intercontinental bird migrations of the Pacific Flyway, which could be decimated in the event of even a moderate diluted bitumen spill.
Boundary Bay – Roberts Bank – Sturgeon Bank (Fraser River Estuary) (BC017) — IBA Canada
“Boundary Bay, Roberts Bank and Sturgeon Bank form one of the richest and most important ecosystems for migrant and wintering waterbirds in Canada. This Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) supports globally or continentally significant populations of fifteen species, including American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Mallard, Brant, Snow Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Western Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, Dunlin, Great Blue Heron, Western Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Glaucous-winged Gull, Thayer’s Gull, and Mew Gull. In addition, the IBA supports nationally significant numbers of Barn Owl and Peregrine Falcon.
In total, fifty species of shorebirds have been recorded in the area. The most numerous species found here is the Western Sandpiper – one-day, peak count estimates of at least 500,000 have historically (pre-2001) occurred during spring migration, though more recent estimates range from 120,000-180,000, which is a substantial proportion of the global Western Sandpiper population. Western Sandpiper also pass through on fall migration. Dunlin also occur in large numbers – one-day, peak counts in the spring exceeded 100,000 in 2004 and typically range from 26,000-85,000 birds. Large numbers of Dunlin can occur during fall migration and also overwinter in the delta. Black-bellied Plovers occur during winter and on migration, with one day counts of up to 6,000 birds. Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers use both agricultural and estuarine habitats.
A significant proportion of the Wrangel Island Snow Goose population uses the banks; up to 38,400 regularly winter here; high numbers also occur on passage in fall and spring. The numbers of Snow Geese using the banks change significantly even within one winter because the birds move back and forth to the nearby Skagit River Delta in Washington State. Counts of 60,000 for the entire Fraser-Skagit Delta population are not uncommon between late October and March; about 100,000 birds were counted in 2007. During the fall and early winter, one-day counts of greater than 100,000 dabbling and diving ducks are made regularly in the IBA for species such as American Wigeon (up to 51,000), Northern Pintail (up to 44,000), Mallard (up to 27,000) and Green-winged Teal. Surf Scoters occur in large numbers in marine waters during the winter and in spring (typically 1,000-8,000 individuals); with populations exceeding global IBA thresholds twice since 2001. Many dabbling ducks use the agricultural lands and estuarine habitats.
Significant numbers of Trumpeter Swans winter in the IBA (up to 1,455 in 2010). Brant winter in marine waters of the IBA (4,080 in 2010) and pass through on spring migration. Most are Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans). In recent years, about 200 Western High Arctic, or Grey-bellied Geese have been present in winter. During the late summer and early fall, the area is also very important for moulting grebes. Historically, between 2,000 and 3,000 Western Grebes were regularly present in Boundary Bay, and a separate study reported over 2,000 on the estuarine banks (Stout and Cooke 2003, Butler and Cannings 1989). In recent years, Western Grebes have declined steeply; counts since 2003 have ranged from 200-1000 individuals and no longer exceed IBA thresholds. This significant decline has been noted throughout the Salish Sea (in British Columbia and Washington); the reasons for the decline are not clear and are under investigation (Wilson et al. 2013). Red-necked Grebes are also present in the IBA during spring and fall migration and winter; counts have exceeded IBA thresholds in four years since 2001, with a peak count of 2,716 in 2002.
Glaucous-winged Gulls are present year-round and occur in significant numbers during the winter, with a peak count exceeding 55,000 in 2006. Large numbers feed at the Vancouver Landfill in Burns Bog and roost on surrounding fields and on marine waters of Boundary Bay, Roberts and Sturgeon Banks. Significant numbers of Mew Gulls are also present in the fall (counts up to 1,217 in 2007) and winter (up to 3,770 in 2005). Thayer’s Gull occurs in significant numbers in the winter as well, with up to 623 counted in 2001.
The IBA supports important numbers of three species determined to be Threatened or Special Concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC; wildlife species that have been assessed as at risk by COSEWIC may qualify for legal protection and recovery under Canada’s Species at Risk Act). Great Blue Heron (A.h. fannini subspecies) (Special Concern, COSEWIC) has several colonies in the IBA, including a very large one on a forested bluff adjacent to Roberts Bank and the Tsawwassen ferry jetty, with about 250-450 nests (Welstead, pers comm.). These herons are resident, and feed in intertidal areas during the breeding season, as well as on farmland, especially in winter. Barn Owl (Threatened, COSEWIC) nest in and around farmlands within the IBA; up to 106 nest sites were active over six years from 2006-2012 (Hindmarch, pers comm.). Peregrine Falcon (Special Concern, COSEWIC) regularly occurs during the winter. The number of Bald Eagles using the IBA in the winter has also increased in recent years and may exceed IBA thresholds in the future. …”