Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

October 7 2013

Federal Environment Minister asked to require Environmental Assessment of Fraser Surrey Docks Coal Port

- VTACC remains concerned about deficiencies in EIA being conducted by Port Authority

Vancouver - Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) sent a letter today to Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq asking her to designate the Fraser Surrey Docks/Texada Island coal export proposal under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 allows the Environment Minister to designate projects where there is public concern about the potential environmental impacts of a project. VTACC is concerned that the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal port proposal could have potentially significant environmental effects, and has made numerous efforts to encourage the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to strengthen it's review of the coal port project. Today it has taken that effort one step further by asking the Minister to designate the project under federal law.

On September 26th VTACC delivered an open letter to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority from experts in the field of environment and health impact assessment. That letter detailed serious flaws in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) that the Port Authority had requested of the Fraser Surrey Docks coal port proposal. The letter asked the Port Authority to abandon the flawed EIA and begin again, involving key stakeholders in determining the scope and terms of reference for a thorough, transparent and comprehensive assessment of environmental and health impacts of coal export expansion. The Port Authority has not responded to the experts' letter.

"The Port Authority has acknowledged that there is sufficient public concern over coal exports to warrant an Environmental Impact Assessment of the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal. However, the study that the Port requested from the company is entirely inadequate," said Kevin Washbrook, VTACC spokesperson "We need a better process if the public is to have any faith in its conclusions. That's why we've asked the federal Minister designate this project for a federal environmental assessment."

Today's request to the Minister, sent by Ecojustice Canada on behalf of VTACC, notes that the coal export proposal has potential to impact federally recognized concerns, including migratory birds in the Fraser River Delta, and salmon in the Fraser River, recently the subject of a federal commission of inquiry. Ecojustice has asked Minister Aglukkaq to include the shipment of coal by barges to a terminal on Texada Island in preparation for export as part of the federal environmental assessment.

"The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act gives the Minister the power to designate projects for environmental assessments where there may be environmental impacts and where there is public concern. Both factors are clearly at play here," said Karen Campbell, staff lawyer with Ecojustice Canada. "We think that the coal port proposal is exactly the kind of project that this provision of the Act was designed for, and we hope that the Minister will designate the project."

The Fraser Surrey Docks/Texada Island coal export proposal is an issue of grave concern to people throughout Metro Vancouver and up the Strait of Georgia. VTACC is bringing this issue to the Minister of Environment's attention today to ensure these concerns are given the careful consideration they deserve.

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For more information:

Kevin Washbrook climate_action@vtacc.org

Director, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change