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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An assessment of LPG tanker operating regulations in the port of Vancouver, B.C. Marston, Joseph Charles


In recent years, the Port of Vancouver has emerged as a major transshipment centre for a broad range of hazardous materials. This, in turn, has led to growing public concern over the problems associated with the large-volume production, storage, and movement of dangerous commodities in populated areas. The shipment of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by means of refrigerated oceangoing gas tankers is considered to be one of the potentially most dangerous aspects of the hazardous materials trade in the Port of Vancouver. In this regard, the thesis examines the qualitative relationship between the regulatory standards governing the safe movement of LPG carriers in the Port of Vancouver, and those in effect in selected urban gas ports in Europe (Canvey Island, U.K.; Europoort, Holland; and Le Havre, France) and the United States (Boston, Massachusetts and Los Angeles, California). By means of comparative assessment, the research isolates a number of instances where local gas tanker operating standards do not compare favourably in terms of substances, scope, or applicability with the requirements in force in the five control ports. In those instances where the Vancouver regulations are deficient to the extent that they are deemed to constitute an unnecessary risk to public safety, the research rationalizes the need to upgrade local requirements to a level which either meets, or exceeds the consensus standard for the control ports. The thesis addresses in some detail such related items as the properties, characteristics, and potential hazards associated with the marine transportation of LPG and LNG; the composition and operating history of the world liquefied gas tanker fleet, including an overview and assessment of the safety record of this fleet; and the basic structure of the international marine trade in liquid gases. Moreover, the research identifies a number of additional public safety issues pertaining to the production, storage, and transportation of hazardous materials generally in the Port of Vancouver, and suggests a strategic evaluation process whereby these concerns might reasonably be addressed, and either mitigated or resolved. In this latter regard, the thesis makes several broad-based recommendations ranging from the need for a federal inquiry to address the overall implications of the hazardous materials question as it relates to the Port of Vancouver, to a suggestion that the National Harbours Board's responsibility for port safety should be transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard in order to eliminate the possibility of a serious conflict of interest situation arising between the Board's marketing and safety concerns. Although the research is primarily directed to circumstances occurring in the Port of Vancouver, much of the information contained in the thesis is likely to have valid application in other Canadian ports which are either currently engaged in the marine transfer of hazardous materials, or are anticipating the possible establishment of such a trade in the foreseeable future.

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