Ridley Terminals Inc. plans to expand its existing berth to accommodate future growth. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Northern B.C. coal terminal needs to expand to accommodate growth

With coal volumes increasing, Ridley Terminals wants to be able to load two vessels simultaneously

From coal, to liquefied petroleum gas, Ridley Terminals Inc. in northern B.C. wants to expand its existing berth to accommodate future growth.

The plans for the Ridley Terminal Berth Expansion Project were revealed at the District of Port Edward meeting on Tuesday, July 10, by RTI president and chief operating officer Marc Dulude, and corporate affairs manager, Michelle Bryant-Gravelle.

“We’re proposing a terminal expansion to accommodate a second berth south east of the existing berth extension of the dock structure,” Bryant-Gravelle said to council.

This will allow the terminal to be able to load two vessels on the existing trestle at the same time.

“Rational for the project is to handle other bulk commodities to diversify export opportunities and to reduce the commercial risks of handling one product,” Bryant-Gravelle said. “The berth expansion location also preserves future expansion options at the berth.”

Future expansion being that the AltaGas propane export terminal is expected to be ready to ship liquefied natural gas by the first quarter of 2019.

READ MORE: AltaGas ahead of schedule

If the berth expansion project goes ahead it will bring jobs for 20-40 people.

Ridley Terminals has already consulted with First Nations and is moving toward its next step — environmental preparation and evaluation.

The expansion, which will be on federal land, is not a designated project, and will be going under an environmental review under Section 67 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Five federal authorities – Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, RTI and Prince Rupert Port Authority — will determine whether the project will cause any significant or adverse effects.

Potential effects, as described in the presentation, will be a change in habitat, sensory disturbances, change in air quality, noise and lighting.

“How many more trains will we get from this new dock?” Mayor Dave MacDonald asked.

With increased coal shipments to Ridley Terminals there has been a noticeable increase in train traffic. From January to May, 3.4 million tonnes of coal was shipped from Ridley Island. Dulude said they may be heading toward shipping 9-million tonnes of coal this year.

While Dulude didn’t have a set answer for the mayor, he suggested that they will use longer trains with the same volume of goods coming through Port Edward, rather than several smaller trains.

READ MORE: Vopak investigates terminal development on Ridley Island

“My priority this year was to stabilize our organization and increase the volume and we have been able to achieve that. The next step is we need to focus on how we can do better in terms of performance but also in terms of acting responsibly regarding our neighbours and communities,” he said.

Another concern from council surrounded the dredging that will need to be done to accommodate vessels.

Where exactly the dredge sediment is released has yet to be determined, but in the presentation one option was crossed out on the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s spoil managements area. Another possible option was to dispose the sediment in the ocean, which Port Edward council made a point was not their favourite option.

Dulude said they will take it into consideration but will go with expert opinion on where to dispose the sediment.

With coal volumes increasing, Dulude said: “We’re already working on a plan for additional expansion in the future, assuming we still have support for the community.”

Open houses and a 30-day public consultation period is planned for the fall. If all goes well, RTI hopes the federal authorities will determine the fate of the project by December or January.

READ MORE: Report finds failures in governance at Ridley Terminals

 

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