“Russian Roulette” on Vancouver waterfront: Crab-Water for Life Society comparison with hazardous cargo movement on central waterfront

CRAB Park Water for Life Society logoWe share with readers below this letter to Vancouver Mayor and Council from Don Larson of the Crab-Water for Life Society. He sent this the day after a major fire of hazardous materials grabbed headlines in Vancouver (see Vancouver Sun photos here).

(Updatede) Further below we provide information on a “Talk Vancouver” survey by the City, asking you how they did with the emergency. We also provide some interesting links to the “Central Waterfront Hub Framework” adopted by Vancouver City Council on 11-June-2009 including a section on dangerous goods, plus a link to reporter Bob Mackin’s article “Exposing the Mayor’s haz mat apathy: Centerm chemical fire a wake-up call for oil-obsessed Vision Vancouver” and some other observations on safety in Vancouver.


To: Mayor and Council City of Vancouver
Re: Movement of Hazardous Cargo on Central Waterfront
March 6, 2015

The recent toxic container fire highlights the need to remove all hazardous cargo permanently from Vancouver’s central waterfront. The game being played on Vancouver’s waterfront is like a game of Russian Roulette.

Yes, the first responders to this incident were brave because with some of the toxic chemicals they could have also been vaporized. An explosion of certain chemicals could lead to a fireball of one thousand yards in radius. There could be heavy impact for one mile in radius. Windows would be blown out within a three mile radius. And how could nearby residential and commercial citizens be evacuated when some are elderly, people with disabilities, and in some cases in a state of drugged confusion.

Mayor Robertson and Councilors, do the people of Vancouver have the right to know what toxic chemicals are daily being moved on our waterfront by container and rail?

The citizens of Vancouver have a right to their life and livelihood to be properly served and protected.

Mayor Robertson, the only real way of protecting our citizens near the central waterfront of Vancouver is to remove all hazardous cargo permanently from our waterfront.

Your City Council, Mayor Robertson, is the third city council that Crab-Water for Life Society has passed the above message on toxic chemicals too.

Don Larson,
Crab-Water for Life Society


SURVEY BY CITY OF VANCOUVER: Circulated by e-mail.

Subject: Share Your Views on the City’s Response to the Fire at Port Metro Vancouver
Talk Vancouver” <engagement@talkvancouver.com>
Date: March 6, 2015

Let us know how we did!

As you may or may not be aware, there was a fire at the Port of Metro Vancouver recently. The City of Vancouver would like to hear your thoughts on how the City responded to this situation. Please take a few minutes and answer three quick questions that will help the City improve its response to emergencies in the future.

Click here to start the questionnaire.

If you are unable to click on the link above, please copy and paste the full URL below into your browser:


This questionnaire will be available until Friday, March 20.


The Talk Vancouver Team

453 West 12th Avenue | Vancouver, BC | V5Y 1V4 | CANADA l engagement@talkvancouver.ca


The be oil and end oil: exposing the Mayor’s haz mat apathy: Centerm chemical fire a wake-up call for oil-obsessed Vision Vancouver” by Bob Mackin, 6-Mar-2015



This PDF file below shows some maps and information about development in the Central Waterfront Hub area, not far from where the chemical fire occurred on March 5, 2015. Admittedly, the discussion is about safety at the rail yard, not the port facilities, but you will see overlap in issues and approaches. Further below we provide an excerpt.CoV 601 West Cordova site photo VHC 13-Jan-2014

This is a download from our story on this…
“Vancouver Heritage Commission (Jan 13) looked at 24-storey tower 601 W.Cordova (near old CPR station)”
Section 9.1.3 on Dangerous Goods is copied below.
9.1.3 Dangerous Goods
A wide variety of goods are moved through the rail yard, from regular household products to industrial goods, some of which are identified as ‘Dangerous Goods’ by Transport Canada, the agency responsible for regulation, containment, handling and identification procedures.
There are a number of procedures currently in place to reduce the risk of incidents involving dangerous goods, including:
  • Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs) – These are required for the most potentially harmful dangerous goods such as explosives, flammable substances and toxic gases which may present widespread hazards in the event of an accident. An ERAP outlining the actions a shipper would take in the event of an accident is approved by Transport Canada before a shipment containing Dangerous Goods is authorized.
  • Cargo Screening: The Canadian Border Services Agency provides cargo screening at the Port of Vancouver, to detect dangerous goods and contraband on all containers before they leave the terminal.
  • Security: PMV [Port Metro Vancouver] employs various technologies to enhance the physical security on and around Port properties, including intelligent fencing, optical intrusion detection devices, video surveillance and thermal imaging equipment to provide automated threat identification.
  • Container inspections: Containers are inspected as they come off the cargo ships for imports and before they are loaded with items identified by Transport Canada as ‘Dangerous Goods’ for exports. Tank cars containing liquids or gases are constructed using double-walled steel and regularly inspected by CPR to prevent leaks.

In 2008 the City of Vancouver’s Office of Emergency Management undertook a city-wide Hazard Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. This assessment was completed with hazard experts and stakeholders from within the City of Vancouver and outside organizations providing input to determine the likelihood and expected impacts of hazard events through hazard ranking workshops. As part of these workshops, the likelihood of an incident relating to dangerous goods transported by rail was determined to be low (1001 years +).

Nevertheless, concern over the risks posed by dangerous goods has been raised by City Council and members of the public, therefore, a study by a qualified professional will be required to assess the risks posed to new development in the Framework area by dangerous goods movement within the rail yard. This study should include identification of all potential hazards and quantification of the risks associated with each in terms of consequences and likelihood. The study should also take into consideration CPR’s ‘common carrier’ obligations to transport Dangerous Goods. Based on the results of this study, mitigation measures and/or revised emergency management procedures may be required to address risks to new development within the Framework area to the satisfaction of the City’s Office of Emergency Management.


CityHallWatch note.

The above document says that in 2008 the City of Vancouver’s Office of Emergency Management undertook a city-wide Hazard Risk and Vulnerability Assessment.
Is is available for public review?
We cannot find Vancouver’s. But, by comparison, Nanaimo’s is online.
More useful information…
How Vancouver prepares for emergencies: 

Contact the Office of Emergency Management: “Everyone has a role to play in making sure we all stay safe in emergencies.”

  • Phone: 3-1-1
  • E-mail: emergency.management@vancouver.ca


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