Federal environment minister okays Fairview Terminal expansion

by MM&D staff

OTTAWA, Ontario—The planned expansion of the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Fairview Terminal has passed an important environmental hurdle.

Federal environment minster Peter Kent announced that the Phase II Expansion Project is “environmentally sound” and “is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects with the implementation of the mitigation measures described in the Comprehensive Study Report”.

The Comprehensive Study Report is a 200 page document issued pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and published in September 2012. It examines how the construction and existence of the terminal expansion will affect environmental factors such as air quality, noise vibration, light, vegetation resources, wildlife and wildlife habitat, avifauna (birds and migratory flight patterns), freshwater resources and ecosystems, marine environment, socio-economic conditions of the local human population, human health and safety, archaeological and heritage resources, current use by aboriginal people and country foods (resources include vegetation, wildlife, freshwater and marine species that may be used by local subsistence or recreational harvesters).

Some of the recommendations for mitigation measures include:

  • Monitoring for undiscovered archaeological and heritage resources will be undertaken during construction along with documentation of resources found as project activities will result in the destruction or disturbance of identified Archaeological and Heritage Resources. Recovery and storage of 100 percent of any artefacts or human remains is mandated.
  • Observing marine mammals during construction activities to ensure that adequate separation distances are maintained from potentially noisy activities and developing habitat compensation measures for those environmental effects that cannot be mitigated. It is projected the project will result in the loss of over 35 hectares of marine habitat.
  • Creating a detailed mitigation plan to deal with damage to the freshwater ecosystem as construction of the project will result in a total loss of fish-bearing freshwater aquatic habitat of 2,300sqm in addition to the loss of 15,527sqm of riparian (riverbank) habitat.
  • Undertaking a study of moose-train collisions, as the expected moose fatality rate is expected to increase approximately one percent.
  • Designing and managing light installations to reduce unwanted glare and light trespass into surrounding areas.

After giving the plan approval from his department, Kent referred the project back to the departments of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency for appropriate follow-up action.

Under the Fairview Terminal Phase II expansion project, the terminal’s existing wharf structure will be extended to a length of 800m (with a minimum water depth of 18m) and the dock area will be increased to 56 hectares. The onshore terminal will also be expanded.

As well, CN Rail intends to build two rail sidings, a maintenance road and a wye (a triangular shaped arrangement of railway tracks with a switch point at each corner). The intermodal yard will have 9,144m of trackage with a capacity of 400 TEUs.

The expansion is expected to increase the handling capacity of the facility to at least two million TEUs per year with storage for 28,560 TEUs at stacked five high. The terminal will use at least six (and possibly up to eight) post-panamax cranes and will have four radiation ports.

The project is estimated to cost $650 million and is scheduled to be completed in 2014.