Mar 15 2012
Royer claims danger, aims to change consultation process

 
 
TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Coun. Zoe Royer wants heavy industries operating in Port Moody to consult the city before changing the types of goods they are storing or transporting.

By Sarah Payne

A Port Moody councillor says Burrard Inlet’s ecosystem is at risk of being wiped out by the goods being shipped along the city’s shores and she wants limits placed on how big industries do business.

“We see long trains with dangerous cargo riding perilously close to the water,” Coun. Zoë Royer said in a lengthy preamble to a notice of motion she issued at the close of Tuesday’s meeting.

Separating those hazardous goods — oil, sulphur and ethylene glycol — from the environment is nothing more than a metal tank, often “just rusty hulls,” she said.

“What prevents a serious spill is a hope and a prayer,” she said, that industry staff do not make a catastrophic mistake on their shift. “What prevents spills is just trying to beat the odds.”

Royer’s motion calls for an assessment of the type and volume of goods being transported through Port Moody. She also wants a new bylaw requiring industries to conduct “extensive and meaningful consultation” with residents, environmental groups and city council prior to any significant change in the type or volume of goods being shipped.

In an interview Thursday, Royer said with each rejection of pipeline applications, like those from Kinder Morgan and Enbridge, oil companies become more frantic to find a way to ship Alberta oil to Asia.

And with corporate decisions on Pacific Coast Terminal’s and Imperial Oil’s activities being handled in Calgary and Toronto, Royer said, Port Moody’s interests may not be considered.

“Industries are already set up for liquids right here in Port Moody and I’m just deeply concerned,” she said, claiming the level of public engagement on the part of PCT, for example has not been sufficient.

Kent Smith, PCT’s manager of maintenance and engineering, said he was both surprised and disappointed by Royer’s comments.

“There are processes in place to consult with the city... and they’re well established,” he told The Tri-City News. As an example, he cited PCT’s coal shipment trials last summer.

Prior to commencement of the shipments, which have happened occasionally since the facility opened in 1960, PCT invited environmental groups, city staff and Port Metro Vancouver to inspect the loading procedures, — and no concerns were raised.

As the longest-running tenant of Port Metro Vancouver, PCT follows the “long list of processes, regulations and procedures that we have to adhere to continue to do business in the port,” Smith noted, adding PCT has been recognized with both local and international environmental-protection awards.

“We’re very proud of our track record here,” he said, “and we’re happy to have people come down here and see that first-hand.”

Emergency preparedness plans are in place, Smith said, and responses to various scenarios are practised annually.

Smith also expressed concern that Royer’s reference to hazardous goods is not factual and may cause unnecessary alarm among residents.

“The products we handle at PCT are not... regulated as dangerous goods, so I’m not sure where she gets that from,” he said, noting Royer has not toured the facility, despite invitations to do so.

(Royer said she had already committed to a tour with the city’s environmental protection committee next month before making the notice of motion.)

Mayor Mike Clay said thousands of train cars travel through the Tri-Cities carrying far more dangerous cargo than sulphur without incident.

The Ioco oil refineries are in the process of dismantling, he added, with an eye to future mixed-use development, not more oil storage, and Royer’s statements were “purely hypothetical.”

Clay also noted that any business would be required to consult with the city before implementing significant changes, “and where we aren’t the regulatory body, I wouldn’t expect anybody to have to jump through multiple hoops on the same application.”

PoMo staff are preparing a report on the motion for the next council meeting March 27.

 



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