Media Advisory

February 19 2014

Port delays FS Docks Decision, Seeks New Info On Health Impacts Of Coal Exports

The Port Authority has posted a statement on new information it will require on health impacts from the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal prior to a decision on the project.

The Port's statement indicates that it will not hold a formal comment period after collecting this new information and prior to making a decision.

The Port Authority continues to respond to public concerns about this project in a piecemeal and closed door fashion. Today's offering from the Port falls far short of providing the comprehensive Health Impact Assessment demanded by local governments, health experts and the public.

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change puts forward the following questions that should be answered regarding the announced revised assessment of health impacts associated with coal export expansion at Fraser Surrey Docks.

Transparent processes, engagement of public agencies and independent analysis are all required if the public is to have confidence that the assessment of health risks associated with coal export expansion was thorough and complete.

Scope

  1. will impacts associated with shipping coal by rail (diesel exhaust, coal dust, delays, and especially noise impacts, which were largely overlooked in the EIA) be re-examined? Experts were critical of the EIA for failing to properly assess these impacts.
  2. will impacts associated with shipping coal by barge to Texada Island be examined? Potential impacts to communities on Texada? Again, these impacts were overlooked in the EIA.
  3. why isn't the Port requiring Fraser Surrey Docks to provide more information on environmental impacts as well, when their review under the previous EIA was also heavily critiqued?

Involvement of Health Authorities

  1. Were the Health Authorities/Medical Health Officers involved in deciding what additional information was required? Were they involved in selecting any consultants required to collect this new information?

Neptune Terminals

  1. the revised assessment of health impacts applies only to the Fraser Surrey Docks project. Both the City of North Vancouver and Burnaby have called for a Health Impact Assessment of the Neptune Terminals expansion. That project will see a potential tripling of coal movements through Burnaby and North Vancouver -- from the current level of approximately 6 million tonnes/yr to 18.5 million/tonnes/yr. The Neptune and Fraser Surrey Docks proposals were both submitted to the Port Authority in mid 2012; the Neptune project was rushed through approved by January 2013 and the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal is still under study, even though it is smaller in size.
  2. There is no reason to believe that potential health impacts associated with expaneded coal exports from from Neptune terminals were given any more careful consideration than has been the case to date with the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal. Residents in North Vancouver, Burnaby and down the rail line from Neptune Terminals deserve the same careful analysis of potential health risks as residents in Surrey, Delta and White Rock are expecting on the FS Docks proposal.
  3. will the Port Authority call for further assessment of the health impacts associated with the Neptune Terminals coal export expansion project?

Cumulative impacts of all expansion

  1. recently the Port Authority approved a $230M upgrade to Westshore Terminals in Delta that could see up to one more coal train per day running to that facility. Why hasn't the Port Authority committed to a cumulative health impact assessment of all coal export proposals, rather than pursuing a project by project approach?

Climate Impacts

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change appreciates that the Port Authority has begun to respond to public concerns over expanded coal exports. However, in the case of the proposal to export US thermal coal from Fraser Surrey Docks, our over riding concern remains the same: the proposal is incompatible with what needs to be done to avoid runaway climate change.

The province of BC banned thermal coal electricity generation in 2007 because of its climate impacts. Today's BC government promotes LNG exports to help Asian countries reduce the use of thermal coal for the same reason. The International Energy Agency says that 80 percent of remaining thermal coal must remain in the ground to avoid a climate disaster. The Fraser Surrey Docks project brings minimal benefit to BC and puts our future at risk. It should be cancelled.

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For more information:

climate_action@vtacc.org