By Greg Holt and Phillipe Craig
November 18, 2021 - Rail service to the Port of Vancouver was suspended after heavy rain caused flooding and landslides resulted in multiple track outages, railway operators said on Nov. 17.
Container ship berthing delays and heightened anchorage demands are expected, but all terminals at the Port of Vancouver are still operating, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority spokesperson Matti Polychronis said.
"Flooding impacts on highways remain severe and widespread throughout southwestern British Columbia," Polychronis said. "All main highway routes to the Metro Vancouver area are closed. Resumption of traffic is expected to take two to three days. Damage assessments of roadway infrastructure are ongoing."
Shipments of marine fuel to the port and export cargoes of coal, grain, potash and sulfur have all been disrupted by the outages, which first occurred on Nov. 16.
Canadian Pacific Railway -- whose operations were affected between Spences Bridge and Falls Creek, British Columbia, around 250 km northeast of Vancouver -- said there was no time estimate for when services can resume.
"CP has deployed crews and equipment to the region, and CP engineering teams are working to repair the damaged rail corridor as quickly as possible where safe to do so," the company said.
Canadian National Railway said northbound and eastbound traffic from Vancouver, as well as inbound traffic from east/north of Kamloops, British Columbia, around 450 km northeast of Vancouver, have all been affected by mudslides and washouts.
Vancouver-based mining firm Teck Resources said its logistics chain between Pacific Coast export terminals have been disrupted by the outages. The company has diverted some trains to Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, around 1,000 km north of Vancouver.
Teck produces metallurgical coal, copper concentrate and molybdenum concentrate at mines in southern British Columbia.
A marine fuel source said the Trans Mountain pipeline carrying 300,000 b/d of crude and refined products from Alberta to Vancouver was shut down as a precaution, cutting off bunker supplies to ships in the port which "could get ugly very fast".
"The pipeline shut down is bad, but all diesel and fuel oil shipped by rail is also shut down," the source said. "[There is] only one small refinery in Vancouver. The terminals rely on the pipeline and rail for supply."
The were five containerships, thirty-one dry bulk carriers and two tankers an anchor waiting to berth at Vancouver terminals on Nov. 17, according to Platts cFlow trade-flow analytics software.