To the Editor:
Vopak, the multinational company that plans to build a fuel export facility near Prince Rupert, has admitted its environmental assessment did not assess the risks to salmon and other marine resources at Flora Bank.
Flora Bank is critical estuary habitat for young Skeena salmon. A toxic spill near Flora Bank would be a catastrophic blow to Skeena salmon populations that are already distressingly low in numbers.
Vopak has also admitted that in their environmental assessment, they excluded transit accidents outside the shipping lane. This is a serious omission because most shipping accidents are forecast to be groundings, and most groundings occur outside the shipping lane.
Nearly three years after the environmental assessment for this project began, we are still waiting for confirmation from the Prince Rupert Port Authority and BC Environmental Assessment Office that Vopak’s assessment requirements will be enforced. Without an expert quantitative assessment of the risk of spills impacting salmon in nearby critical Flora Bank, the environmental assessment is a sham.
The proposed Vopak terminal on Ridley Island would be acceptable, with safeguards, if Vopak stuck to methanol and propane (LPG). Vopak’s intention to make about 25 per cent of the products shipped either diesel oil or other toxic substances adds a huge risk to our Skeena salmon.
Given the proximity of the proposed Vopak diesel pipeline jetty to a busy shipping lane and the extreme toxicity of diesel to marine life, it is likely too risky to locate a diesel terminal so close to Flora Bank. The assessment process needs to examine this critical risk.