Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Federal Environmental Assessment for Roberts Bank Terminal II: Defining the Scope

About a month ago, Port Metro Vancouver hosted a small group meeting in Langley to talk about and receive feedback on the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal II expansion. This meeting was part of the Port’s consultation processes which is running in tandem with the federal environmental assessment processes for this project. One of the main concerns from the small group meeting I attended was the scope for the environmental assessment. Scope is important because it lets the Port know what impacts that they need to consider and propose mitigation measures for. One of the main concern in Langley was the impact the Port will have due to increase rail and road traffic.

On Friday, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) confirmed that the Roberts Bank Terminal II expansion will require a federal environmental assessment and posted draft the “Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Guidelines, a document that identifies the potential environmental effects to be taken into consideration and the information and analysis that needs to be included in the proponent's EIS.”

This document is important because it defines the scope of project impacts that the CEAA will consider. According to the draft guidelines, the following are proposed to be within the scope of the assessment:

-Approach channel for both the marine terminal and tug basin
-Harbour basin for both the marine terminal and tug basin
-Berths for both the marine terminal and tug basin
-Marine terminal, including the container storage yard, intermodal yard, and linear infrastructure
-Tug basin
-Causeway expansion, including land, rail and road additions and alterations
-Temporary works necessary for project construction
-Dredging, site preparation, earthmoving, compacting, drilling, and blasting activities (if any)
-Disposal at sea and sediment transfer pit location(s)
-Marine, road and rail transportation within the port’s jurisdiction
-Water management systems

The Port must consider air quality, noise, lighting and climate impacts as well as the impact the proposed expansion will have on the rural and urban settings, but only as it relates to the scope defined in the EIS. Because of this, the EIS is one of the most important documents as it guides the whole assessment processes.

One of the key issues for the region in the impact caused by the transportation of good to/from the Port, but the draft EIS states that only “marine, road and rail transportation within the port’s jurisdiction” will be considered. I believe that rail transportation outside of the Port’s jurisdiction, but is solely serving the Port must also be considered as part of the environmental assessment. As railways are federally regulated, this should fall within the scope of a federal environmental assessment. If this is not considered, a large portion of the impact the Port will have on the region due to the proposed terminal expansion will be exempt from review.

Now that the draft EIS has been publish, the general public has 30-days to comment on it. If you would like to make your views known, I suggestion you visit the webpage that the CEAA has setup for this project.

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