Richardson cleared for West Coast terminal expansion

Grain handler Richardson International plans to start work “immediately” on a $120 million, 80,000-tonne storage expansion project at its North Vancouver terminal after getting the go-ahead from Port Metro Vancouver.

The Winnipeg company’s expansion, announced in October and billed as “the biggest investment in the Port of Vancouver in more than 20 years,” will see slip-form concrete silo construction on the east side (to the right in the photo shown here) of the terminal building, plus installations of new distribution equipment and an upgraded dust filtration and collection system.

Steel storage bins now at the site will be taken down and two 40,000-tonne capacity, 54-metre-tall concrete annexes built, for a net gain in storage capacity of 70,000 tonnes and total terminal capacity of 178,000 tonnes on completion, expected in 2015.

The terminal’s pellet handling system, its workhouse, grain handling areas and part of its rail yard will be “modified” to tie in the expanded storage annex, the company said.

Richardson reiterated Monday that the terminal has been operating at “maximum capacity for several years,” handling over three million tonnes of grains and oilseeds per year. The expansion will allow the site to handle over five million tonnes of crop annually.

Richardson sees the expansion as “key to meeting growing demand from global markets,” Darwin Sobkow, the company’s executive vice-president for agribusiness operations, said in Monday’s release.

The expansion, he said, “will allow us to serve both our farm customers and international buyers more effectively by increasing capacity to move Canadian grains and oilseeds” to market in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide.

Richardson’s grain handle is also expected to rise in coming months through its acquisition of 19 Prairie elevators from Glencore International, in a side deal from the Swiss company’s takeover of Viterra.

On top of “hundreds” of construction jobs over the next two years, the completed expansion is expected to create about 40 to 50 additional permanent jobs at the terminal, the company said.

“Natural screening”

Richardson ran two periods of consultation last fall and in January and February for the surrounding community to review, and give feedback on, the proposed expansion.

Coming out of those consultations, Richardson has pledged to invest up to $250,000 in landscaping, including installation of mature trees along Low Level Road on the north side of the terminal.

While there’s “no way to minimize” the impact on the view, the proposed landscaping will “provide a more natural screening of the silos from residents’ views,” Port Metro said in a report.

The expansion will also see Richardson cut its two locomotives at the site to one working unit, and replace its switcher locomotive with a GenSet locomotive that will cut emissions by 80 per cent, Port Metro said. (GenSet locomotives use a set of small diesel engines and generators in lieu of one large engine and generator, and starts each engine only when its power is needed.)

Port Metro noted an alternative was considered, in which land would be reclaimed on the southwest corner of the terminal site for the new silos.

The company and port officials rejected that option, as it would need to be about 20 metres taller than the existing terminal, blocking even more area residents’ ocean views and casting longer shadows; more augers and dust collection systems would be needed, creating more noise; and fish habitat in the area would be permanently destroyed.

Related story:
Richardson to boost West Coast port grain storage, Oct. 1, 2012

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