Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Fraser Surrey Docks and Coal
Ah, where to start on this one. With the planned coal port expansion at Fraser Surrey Docks, the capacity of Port Metro increases to 59 million (yes million) tonnes per year making it the largest coal exporter in America.
And my fear is that this is not all it wants. There is a desire on the part of the American producers to ship as much as 6 times the presently planned 3 trains per day. 6 TIMES! 18-1+mile long trains coming through the Delta area, White Rock and Burns Bog. This will no doubt become a reality when the Massey Tunnel is removed. (http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CBwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fengage.gov.bc.ca%2Fmasseytunnel%2F&ei=4uSYU8OOGJHqoASVioL4Dg&usg=AFQjCNHhdqbOhl99z9QUWWY4D2pnAv4pkw&sig2=nY7vaSgpTlXUsHtMYZ1Iwg&bvm=bv.68911936,d.cGU) The channel depth is only an issue at the tunnel. By removing the tunnel the boats can be loaded without the present set-up which requires barging the coal to Texada Island to load onto a ship.
This coal is a softer coal than the coal presently being shipped from the Roberts Bank Coal Terminal (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Powder_River_Basin). It is problematic for that reason and a real health and safety concern (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Coal_exports_from_ports_on_the_west_coast_of_Canada_and_the_United_States). As a result at least two American terminals have refused to handle this material. This puts it right in line with the way Mr. Harper is handling all environmental issues; ie, what environmental issues?(http://www.desmog.ca/2013/10/16/canadian-taxpayers-fund-harper-s-65-000-keystone-xl-advertising-trip) And, as we know, Port Metro Vancouver is a Federal Crown Corporation which basically has no accountability (even though they are mandated with decision-making responsibilities under section 67 of Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012). They perform a number of "Habitat Enhancement" Programs in the hopes of being seen as an environmentally friendly group that deserves to have their way with the environment. Sadly what they are proposing for Terminal 2 and enlarging the capacity of the Fraser Surrey Docks is less than good for the Fraser or the Delta area (“Having looked at the document (environmental assessment), it does not meet what we consider the very basic requirements of a health impacts assessment,” Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority chief medical health officer, told the Vancouver Sun). And has anybody actually explained how few jobs the coal is creating? And, oh, have I mentioned before that they have taken on no responsibility for the dismantling of the tunnel for their purposes? You and I, BC, will be paying for that.
As a result chief medical health officers of the regional health authorities, have demanded a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impacts. However, Mayor Louis Jackson is -typically- deferring to "more information from staff" before they join other Municipalities (including Metro Vancouver and Surrey) who have also asked for the assessment. Is it that difficult to believe the healthcare professionals know what they are asking for; is it that unreasonable to assume that the assessment should be done by an independent third party? I appreciate that Mayor Jackson does not want to have a rubber stamp council, but really; just what did she learn on her fact finding mission to Norway? Or is this just a continuation of her recent comment that Delta is "Open for Business."
Yes this does sound like a bit of a rant. But then....if Port Metro is not doing its due diligence, who can we hold responsible or accountable? The Federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable Lisa Rait seems to have given tfhe Port free reign and has not gotten involved in the discussion. Neither has the BC government of Christy Clark gotten involved. I guess we can only hope that the staff at Delta comes up with the necessary information to join the other Municipalities in asking for a full and independent environmental assessment.
The next -and last- comment here is more a question. How is it when this issue is not settled that the BNSF railway is doubling its rail line?(http://www.vickihuntington.ca/content/bnsf-railway-extension-needs-federal-review-huntington) for this contentious coal? Is there something we don't know?