APE - Against Port Expansion in Delta, BC
Say NO to Roberts Bank Terminal 2
APE - Against Port Expansion in Delta, BC
Say NO to Roberts Bank Terminal 2
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Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC

APE (Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary BC) is a group of concerned citizens who recognize that plans for container terminal expansion on Roberts Bank (T2) will see the degradation of the quality of life for thousands of Lower Mainland residents; the industrialization of prime agricultural land; and the loss of globally-significant habitat for salmon, migrating birds and orca whales.

Disturbing Revelations at the 2017 Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Annual General Meeting

A new submission to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Review Panel for Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 has been submitted and is now on the CEAA website. The following is that submission.

Having attended the recent Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) annual general meeting, I am concerned and confused with some of their messaging and the information provided at that meeting. Some of what was said at that meeting by their senior management appears to run counter to information in the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 (T2) Environmental Impact Statement.

 At the AGM the VFPA stated that their vision is to be the world’s most sustainable port. I cannot speak to their other port operations, but in terms of their container operations sustainable they are not. Sustainability has three pillars: Economy, Environment and Socio-Community.

1.   Economy:

They were challenged at the meeting about their container forecasts. They keep claiming that their forecasts are accurate but their own statistics demonstrate this is not the case. See the below attachment:containing detailed information on container volumes and forecasts:.

Statistics_Demonstrate_No_Need_for_Roberts_Bank_Container_Terminal_2_June_11_2017__3_.pdf

These give a clear indication that VFPA continually overstates future container volumes - of course to try and justify the construction of a second container terminal on Roberts Bank.

In fact if we look at the total picture for Canada West Coast container terminal capacities in the attachment we see that by 2020 or thereabouts the West Coast will have added another 3 million in container capacity (TEUs), giving a total capacity on the west coast of more than 8 million TEUs. When we compare that with the actual volumes handled on the West Coast in 2016 of 3.7 million TEUs (of which VFPA handled only 2.9 million), this demonstrates that T2 is not needed in the foreseeable future. In fact VFPA management in answering questions at the AGM admitted that they are now delaying the need for T2 until the end of the next decade.

Clearly there is no business case. VFPA always claimed that they would only move forward with this project if the private sector (i.e. operators) viewed it as viable. But:

1. It is now 2 years since the Request for Qualification process started (June 2015) and almost 1.5 years (end Jan 2016) since the short-listed parties were announced and VFPA has still not identified a private investor that is willing to undertake the project.
2.. VFPA claimed that they would finalize the selection of the Terminal Operator by end 2016 (not achieved) and have selected the Infrastructure Developer by the end of 2017 (process not even  launched yet).

Why is VFPA continuing to spend millions of dollars on a process for which no private entity has ever indicated serious interest? This lack of interest seriously undermines VFPA's claim that T2 is actually necessary. Terminal operators around the world regularly invest (and seek out their own environmental permitting)  in projects where there is a demonstrable requirement for additional capacity. The lack of operators even willing to bid for this project (even with VFPA doing the environmental permitting) should be interpreted by the Panel as a clear message that T2 is not required.

Furthermore the admission at the AGM that VFPA relies on handling significant volumes of US containers for its forecasts identifies a further risk when viewing what is happening at US west coast ports. Seattle Tacoma volumes are up 8 percent and Los Angeles/Long Beach up 7.5 percent, much higher than VFPA container growth. Seattle Tacoma are on a rapid expansion path and will have a 6 million container capacity by 2020. This is another clear indication that a T2 that relies on significant US volumes is not likely to succeed.

2.   Environment

Then there is the question of environmental damage. At the AGM VFPA ducked questions on the potential damage to the Roberts Bank ecosystem.

Is the CEAA Review Panel for T2 aware that VFPA have embarked on sampling and analyzing biofilm on Roberts Bank? This renewed effort - over a year after the Port supposedly completed their environmental assessment - is ineffectual and much too late. Oddly only now are they waking up to the need for analyzing  samples for biofilm diatom species composition and their critical nutritional (Omega-3 - fatty acid) value to shorebirds. Years after the VFPA proposed adding a second container terminal in the heart of the richest and most diverse estuary in the whole of Canada are they suddenly realizing the perils. Why now? - Because seemingly, thanks to independent science, they are aware that the public and other agencies (including the Review Panel?) have cottoned onto the huge risk that T2 could endanger an entire species of migratory shorebirds, western sandpipers, as well as undermine commercial salmon fisheries and other wildlife.  Equally why use consultants paid by the port to carry out this complex work, when there are plenty of renowned independent researchers here in Canada, Japan and Europe that could give an independent assessment at less cost? As we have seen previously, in-house studies paid for by the VFPA are not going to give anything other than a self-serving perspective.

There are an increasing number of published peer-reviewed scientific papers that demonstrate just how important biofilm is to shorebirds and how this particular biofilm is sensitive to the changes in salinity and currents that would be created by T2. Not only that but if built T2 and its widened causeway would cover over part of this important biofilm.

The Review Panel's decision should be clear: the removal of the omega-3 content of this unique biofilm is either the nail in the coffin for T2, or for Western Sandpipers. Current Port efforts are a forlorn hope that they can somehow show that T2 will not cause the degradation that we know is likely to be the case. The precautionary principle has to be applied, this international migratory bird and wildlife area is much too important to risk its degradation by port development.

Last but not least the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are known to be in serious trouble. Their numbers have decreased by 7 in the last year alone. The moves taken by the Port – such as its echo program – are insignificant and ineffective when compared to the plight of this endangered species.  T2 and its related vessel operations will cause the SRKW further stress, will further endanger their main food source, and there is every likelihood that this species will go extinct. That would be a real feather in VFPA's cap.

3. Socio Community

At the AGM VFPA admitted that there are still more numbers of empty port semi-trailer rigs than there should be moving to and from its container terminals. The reality is that Lower Mainland communities, Delta and Richmond in particular, simply cannot handle any more trucks on the roads. It is port trucks that are a significant cause of massive line ups and traffic congestion, for example at the George Massey Tunnel. Delta and Richmond cannot absorb the thousands of additional truck trips that T2 will generate. VFPA has failed totally in investing in alternatives to container trucking to and from its terminals. They have done nothing to promote short haul rail or short sea shipping and continue to be lukewarm to the concept of inland terminals, such as the one at Ashcroft in BC. In fact at the AGM the VFPA CEO said that they want more port-trade enabling land close to its terminals and expressed concern that some distribution and logistics operations are moving to places like Calgary because there is a lack of port industrial land in the Lower Mainland. This is exactly what should be happening. There is no need for distribution and logistics centres to be located adjacent or close to marine terminals. Ports elsewhere in the world understand this – why is it so difficult for VFPA to understand? Is it simply empire building at community expense?

Time for the Port to wake up to independent modern science, withdraw their doomed Roberts Bank T2 application and make amends for their eco-destruction elsewhere in the delta. Time for the Port to start walking their talk and assume the new mantle of sustainable environmental leadership that Canadians expect.

 

 


Let the Fraser Live: Lower Fraser and Estuary Being Destroyed

A new paper has just been released entitled "Let the Fraser Live"
The Port of Vancouver has numerous projects along the Fraser River and in the Estuary which are industrializing one of the most important rivers and estuaries in the world.

This document is a call to action!

let-the-fraser-live_march12_20171.pdf

The only way governments are going to listen is if they are bombarded by emails from their constituents.

Therefore we encourage you to write to your MP and other elected officials.

Forecasts demonstrate no need for T2

The Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 Project in the Fraser Estuary is not needed

The Port of Vancouver proposes to build a 3-berth Container Terminal 2 on a man-made island at Roberts Bank, Delta, British Columbia.  The project requires dredging and filling in 445 acres of ecologically- important waterlot in the Fraser River estuary to add 2.4- million TEUs of container capacity.  (TEU = Twenty-foot container equivalent unit)

The project will do irreparable damage to the unique Roberts Bank ecosystem which supports Canada’s highest concentration of migratory birds, the world’s most famous salmon river, as well as endangered species such as southern resident killer whales, white sturgeon and eulachon.  These amazing assets are at risk of extinction.  Basically it is the remaining wetland habitats of the Fraser River estuary that need preserving, at least the 20 % fragment that is still intact.

Three main reasons why Container Terminal 2 should not be built: 

 1)  Growth in the Container business at Port of Vancouver, at least the Canadian-bound portion, has been flat now for several years, and is likely to stay that way for many years.

 2)  Past forecasts of said growth by the Port have been consistently over enthusiastic; actual container traffic since 2007 never reached even the lowest-case projected levels.    Therefore the business case for building another huge container terminal simply doesn’t hold water.

 3)   Roberts Bank is critical to the survival of huge numbers of migratory birds on the west coast of North America, i.e. it contains mudflats which are unique on the West Coast and cannot be replicated anywhere else in the area.   Some of this precious habitat has already been destroyed by previous developments (Tsawwassen ferry terminal and existing Deltaport).    Terminal 2 will destroy much of what is left.

 1)    Growth of Container trade

The Container trade is only important to Canada’s economy, if the said containers either contain Canadian goods, (exports), or are goods intended for the Canadian market, i.e. imports we need.    Containers coming from Asia to the USA, or the reverse, are of marginal economic benefit to Canada, and if they require additional terminals that contribute to the destruction of valuable ecosystems, such as Roberts Bank, are hardly worthy of our support.

It is revealing to separate out the Canadian container trade from the US trade.   Port of Vancouver has conveniently lumped the two together to bolster its overall numbers, in a futile effort to justify expansion at Roberts Bank.   In the past, the US trade was not all that significant to Canadian ports, but due to the recent labour disputes, it has (temporarily) assumed a much greater importance.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEUs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Canadian Traffic

  2,163,800

   2,344,400

  2,028,700

2,322,800

  2,288,000

  2,372,900

  2,399,075

  2,388,601

  2.290.851

USA Traffic

143,500

147,700

123,800

191,500

219,000

340,300

426,400

524,327

    763,616

Total Traffic

2,307,300

2,492,100

2,152,500

2,514,300

2,507,000

2,713,200

2,825,475

2,912,928

3,054,467

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

US % Share

6.2%

5.9%

5.8%

7.6%

8.7%

12.5%

15.1%

18.0%

25.0%

                                                                                                                                                                (Estimate)

Sources: OSC 2014 Report, Table 8.1 (2007-2013 data)                                                          

PMV, CEO, Robin Silvester: “Port’s stats indicate solid growth”, Delta Optimist, Aug, 26, (2015 US share)

PMV: Statistics Overview 2015

Financial Post, August 18, 2015, K.Owram

http://business.financialpost.com/news/port-metro-vancouver-expects-to-retain-business-following-u-s-ports-labour-dispute

Financial Post, August 18, 2015: Port Metro Vancouver expects to retain business following U.S. ports labour dispute:

“For planning purposes, Port Metro Vancouver assumes that approximately 15 per cent of its container business is destined for the U.S., but that number is currently closer to 25 per cent and CEO, Robin Silvester suspects 20 per cent may be a more accurate assumption going forward.”

This graph also shows that Canadian-bound TEU at Port Vancouver have been essentially flat since 2007 with a small decrease in recent years.

Port_of_Vancouver_Containers_1_2016.jpg

The 2016 total container business through Vancouver has decreased 6.4% as of May, (y-on-y), probably reflecting recent loss of US trade. (US have reported sharply higher container trade this year).

http://www.portvancouver.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Container-Statistics-–-Year-to-date-May-2016.pdf

2)    Past Forecasts not borne out by actual container statistics; distortion of existing container capacity

The Port of Vancouver consistently understates actual port capacity and overestimates forecast growth.  As we all know, the container business grew rapidly in the years when it was being established, so the port deliberately includes statistics from a long time ago, to inflate the current situation – stating:

“Since 2000, Port Metro Vancouver has seen container growth of 7.1 per cent per annum.”

Of course that’s true, but it’s also ancient history; the container trade matured about 8 years ago and the business has levelled off since then. 

Since 2007 the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) has only been 2.54 %, and even that modest increase is mostly due to this temporary US trade, which is now being retrieved by the US ports.    Stripping out this US trade, we see that the all-important Canadian trade is actually down slightly since 2007, (before the financial crisis 2008-2009 temporarily distorted all stats)

Compound Annual Growth Rate for Canadian trade since 2007 is now slightly negative at -0.35% as of 2015, hardly a case for building Terminal 2.

 Port of Vancouver Container Business

YEAR

Total TEUs

CAGR Total TEUs since 2007

USA Volumes

TEUS

% USA Volumes

CAGR USA TEUs since 2007

Canadian Volumes

TEUs

% Canadian Volumes

CAGR Canadian TEUs since 2007

Simple growth rate Canadian TEUs since 2007

2000

1,229,842

 

49,500

4.0

 

1,180,342

96.0

 

 

2001

1,197,142

 

49,200

4.1

 

1,147,942

95.9

 

 

2002

1,558,762

 

107,100

6.9

 

1,451,662

93.1

 

 

2003

1,791,568

 

101,100

5.6

 

1,690,468

94.4

 

 

2004

1,982,488

 

77,000

3.9

 

1,905,488

96.1

 

 

2005

2,140,223

 

65,000

3.0

 

2,075,223

97.0

 

 

2006

2,302,381

 

123,000

5.3

 

2,179,381

94.7

 

 

2007

2,498,691

 

143,500

5.7

 

2,355,191

94.3

 

 

2008

2,492,107

-0.26%

147,700

5.9

2.93%

2,344,407

94.1

-0.46%

-0.5%

2009

2,152,462

-7.19%

123,800

5.8

-7.12%

2,028,662

94.2

-7.19%

-13.9%

2010

2,514,309

0.21%

191,500

7.6

10.10%

2,322,809

92.4

-0.46%

-1.4%

2011

2,507,032

0.08%

219,000

8.7

11.15%

2,288,032

91.3

-0.72%

-2.9%

2012

2,713,160

1.66%

340,300

12.5

18.85%

2,372,860

87.5

0.15%

0.8%

2013

2,825,475

2.07%

426,400

15.1

19.90%

2,399,075

84.9

0.31%

1.9%

2014

2,912,928

2.22%

524,327

18.0

20.34%

2,388,601

82.0

0.20%

1.4%

2015

3,054,467

2.54%

763,616

25

23.24%

2,290,851

75.0

-0.35%

-2.7%

The Port of Vancouver states maximum container capacity at Canada’s West Coast ports (Vancouver and Prince Rupert), will be 6 million TEU by 2020, whereas documented information reveals capacity will actually be 8.2 million, even without the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2. 

Canada’s West Coast Container Capacity by 2020

     

Terminal

TEU Capacity

Deltaport

3,000,000

Centerm

1,800,000

Vanterm

   850,000

Fraser Surrey Docks

   150,000

Port of Vancouver Total

5,800,000

 

 

Port of Prince Rupert

2,400,000

West Coast Total

8,200,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total 2015 container business for the Ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver was 3.8 million TEU. (Vancouver: 3 million TEU and Prince Rupert: 776,412 TEU)

By 2020, the combined ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert will have enough capacity to more than double the current B.C. container business without a second terminal at Roberts Bank.  This provides time for better planning and heeding the recommendations from a 2008 Transport Canada Advisor Report that recommends:

“…policy makers develop container capacity in Prince Rupert before making investments in Vancouver” and further that: “…a systematic approach be taken to achieve an understanding of port capacity before a conclusion is reached that a particular port must necessarily be physically larger.”

(Strategic Advisors Report, Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative Report and Recommendations, 2008; Burghardt, DeFehr and Turner)   http://www.apgci.gc.ca/StrategicAdvisorReport.html

3)    Critical value of Roberts Bank ecosystem

Roberts Bank has international significance of as a vital feeding area for:

-           migratory birds of the Pacific Flyway on their incredible journey from South America to the Arctic, and back again

-          more than two billion juvenile salmon coming down the Fraser River

-          endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas) in Georgia Strait and beyond

The mudflats at Roberts Bank provide a unique feeding area for upwards of 600,000 migrating Western Sandpipers and 200,000 Dunlin, migrating over thousands of miles from the tropics to the Arctic every year.  These tiny shorebirds perform a miracle every year completing this exhausting long distance trip, that is one of the true spectacles of nature.

They rely on the rich nutrients found in biofilm in the mudflats at Roberts Bank.  The area is unparalleled on the West Coast due to the perfect mix of reduced salinity, nutrients from the Fraser River, low tides, and warmer spring temperature which provide the perfect conditions for tiny diatoms to produce omega-3 fatty acids just as the sandpipers migrate through this area. 

Without these mudflats, the whole migratory flock, including one of the most important Western Sandpiper flocks in the world, could never make it to the Arctic, and thus would cease to exist on the West Coast.    This would a tragedy.

References:  Sources of Information for container capacity at Vancouver and Prince Rupert

 a)      Deltaport Capacity: 3,000,000 TEU by 2020

 Projections of Vessel Calls and Movements at Deltaport and Westshore Terminals

Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project (DTRRIP), November 28, 2011

Pages 21; 22; 24; 26; 40; 41

http://www.robertsbankterminal2.com/wp-content/uploads/Projections-of-Vessel-Calls-and-Movements-at-Deltaport-and-Westshore-Terminals.pdf

Environmental Assessment Report, Deltaport Terminal Road and Rail Improvement Project; Hemmera; November, 2012, bottom of page 276 (Scrolled 299/450)

http://www.portvancouver.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/the-environmental-assessment-report.pdf

Deltaport: 2,100,000 TEU prior to Road and Rail Improvement Project

Transport Canada: Pacific Coast Container Terminal Competitiveness Study - TP 14837E, Hanam Canada Corporation; March 2008;  Page 36 (Scrolled 54/106)

https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/policy/report-research-ack-tp14837e-menu-1671.htm

Terminal Systems Inc. Global Business; Local Interests; September 2007

b)      Centerm Capacity: 1,800,000 TEU by 2020

Container Capacity Improvement Program, Update November, 2014; page 3

http://www.robertsbankterminal2.com/wp-content/uploads/PMV-Container-Capacity-Improvement-Program-Update-November-2014.pdf

c)       Vanterm Capacity: 850,000 TEU by 2020

Global Containers Canada, Company Profile, Page 7/15

http://www.tocevents-americas.com/images/Presentations/Chris_Ng.pdf

d)      Fraser Surrey Docks Capacity: 150,000 TEU by 2020

Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project: Meeting Canada’s Trade Demand; Project Rationale; Page 21

http://www.robertsbankterminal2.com/wp-content/uploads/RBT2-Project-Rationale-March-2015.pdf

e)      Prince Rupert Port Authority Capacity: 2,400.000 TEU by 2020

Journal of Commerce; CMA CGM gain slots to Prince Rupert, capping busy year for port, Bill Mongelluzo, November 19, 2015

https://www.joc.com/port-news/international-ports/port-prince-rupert/cma-cgm-gains-slots-prince-rupert-capping-busy-year-port_20151119.html

 

 

 

Save the Fraser Delta from Mega Projects

The Fraser River and Estuary is one of the most important areas in the whole of North America for its environmental diversity. It is recognized globally for its biodiversity and for the millions of shorebirds and other wildlife that it supports.

You would expect that an area so environmentally significant would have the highest level of protection that a nation can bestow on it.

And you would be dead wrong.

Various mega projects involving port and industrial development put the Fraser at risk. In fact the Fraser River and Estuary are at a tipping point.

The Boundary Bay Conservation Committee has recently published a report – “Save the Fraser Delta from Mega Projects”. This landmark report explains in detail the projects that are being planned and the environmental risks that result. Read the Full report here:

Fraser_River_Estuary_and_Mega_Projects_April_22_2016_A.pdf

And then write to your MLA, your MP, the Prime Minister your Premier and other politicians and demand that they support an independent multi disciplinary science based study of each of these projects and their associated risks.