Monday, May 4, 2015

Port Metro Vancouver's Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Environmental Impact Statement

For the last several years, I have been following Port Metro Vancouver as it works towards building Roberts Bank Terminal 2. This project would expand the amount of shipping containers that the Port could handle by adding three new berth at its Delta facilities.

As this is a major project, it is subject to a federal/provincial joint environmental assessment. Port Metro Vancouver’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed project has been recently posted to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s (CEAA) website. Until June 15, members of the public can comment on whether the EIS “contains enough information to being a technical review.” People are allowed to comment on whether they believe Port Metro Vancouver’s EIS meets the guidelines established by the CEAA.

Basically, if the CEAA asked Port Metro Vancouver to talk about apples, oranges, and bananas, but the Port only talked about apples and oranges, members of the public could point that out. It doesn’t matter if people believe that the information presented by the Port about apples, oranges, and bananas is accurate.

The EIS is thousands of pages long. It would be a daunting task for anyone to review the EIS, even if just to see if it is missing something as outlined in the CEAA’s EIS guidelines for the project.

Port Metro Vancouver has prepared a 124 page Executive Summary of the Environmental Impact Statement. If you are curious about the project, this would be a good place to start. From the Port’s perspective, any impact to the environment, human health, or regional infrastructure, can be virtually eliminated.

Of course, this was only within the areas that the Port was looking at in the EIS. Two things that I was interested in were impacts to our transportation network, and air quality.

Proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 - Service and Infrastructure Regional Assessment Area and Local Assessment Area. Select map to enlarge.

In 2012, there was an average of 2,442 daily truck trips generated by Deltaport and the Westshore Terminals. With the addition of Robert Bank Terminal 2, there will be an average of 7,382 daily truck trips by 2030.

In 2012, there was an average of 17 daily trains trip generated by Deltaport and the Westshore Terminals. With the addition of Roberts Bank Terminal 2, there will be an average of 29 trains a day by 2030.

The Environmental Impact Statement has Local Assessment Areas, and wider assessment areas. Assessment areas are geographical boundaries in which the EIS speaks to. The Local Assessment Areas have the greatest amount of focus in the EIS.

For example, the EIS talks about the effects of rail traffic in the Local Assessment Area which consists of most of Delta. The EIS notes that there will be additional air pollution in Delta, and impacts on other social-economic indicators in the community. It also proposes mitigation measures that the Port will perform as part of the project.

Surrey and Langley are not in the Local Assessment Area, so the EIS does not talk to the impacts of additional rail traffic in Langley. Because Langley isn’t in the Local Assessment Area, the Port wouldn’t be obligated to do much to mitigate impacts as a result of the Roberts Banks Terminal 2 project.

While overall human-health impacts are considered region-wide in the EIS, detailed air quality assessments were only performed for Delta and the southern part of Richmond. It seems interesting that a full air quality assessment wasn’t done for the whole region, as we are in the same airshed.

While I’m sure the Ports’ plan to mitigate any impacts from the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project within the Local Assessment Areas will be world-leading, I am concerned about communities like Surrey and Langley which will be stuck with more rail and road-traffic, but with limited resources from Port Metro Vancouver to reduce the impact of this increased traffic.

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