No Expansion of Coal Exports!
To read about the coal export controversy in the media, go here.
The Proposals: I. Fraser Surrey Docks coal export facility.
Fraser Surrey Docks is proposing to build a coal loading facility dedicated to the export of US coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin, delivered by Warren Buffet's BNSF railway.
Local impacts at full build out: river side storage of up to 30,000 tonnes of coal; 4 more coal trains per day (2 in, 2 out) travelling through Semiahmoo, White Rock, Delta and Surrey -- when combined with current trips to Westshore terminals a total of up to 10 coal train trips per day; 4 coal barges per day travelling the Fraser River and Georgia Strait to Texada. (Learn more about the effects of toxic coal dust shed from trains and coal export operations here.)
BNSF trains would dump onto barges in the river for shipment to Texada Island, where the coal would be transferred onto ocean going vessels for shipment to Asia.
The Texada transfer would take place at the existing deepwater port used by Hillsborough Resources for its Quinsam Coal operations.
The facility is scaled to export up to 8 million tonnes (MT) of US coal per year. There is intense pressure to export US coal to Asia. Given the success so far of the campaign to stop new coal ports on the US west coast, BNSF will no doubt pursue full build out of this new BC facility -- if it isn't stopped.
Currently BNSF ships about 8 Mt/yr of US thermal coal out of Jim Pattison's Westshore Terminals, so this new facility could result in a doubling of the export of US coal out of Metro Vancouver.
The Proposals: II. Neptune Terminals coal handling expansion.
Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver has also submitted a permit application to Port Metro Vancouver to expand its coal export capacity, doubling from it's current 9 Mt/yr to 18.5 Mt/yr.
Local impacts at full build out: 8 or more coal trains each day through Metro Vancouver; one more bulk freighter per week. (Learn more about the effects of toxic coal dust here).
Neptune Terminals says that the expanded capacity will be used to export metallurgical coal, used in steel making. Key point: metallurgical coal is just as dangerous for the climate as the thermal coal used to make electricity. Steelmaking accounts for 1/10th of total global greenhouse gas emissions! Read more about this and other excuses used justify continued coal mining and export here.
Some have speculated that expansion of export capacity at Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver will free up space at Westshore Terminals in Delta for the export of more thermal coal delivered by BNSF from the US. Westshore Terminals VP and General Manager Dennis Horgan states that "We could easily ship a further 20 million tonnes [/yr] if we had the capacity."
Implications: I. Metro Vancouver - largest coal exporter in North America!
Westshore Terminals has an export capacity of 29 Mt/yr (and is pushing to expand that to 33 Mt/yr -- more later). If the Neptune Terminals expansion and proposed new Fraser Surrey Docks terminal were to go ahead at full capacity, the total coal export capacity of Port Metro Vancouver would be 55 Mt/yr.
In comparison, the current largest port in North America, Lamberts Point Coal Terminal in Norfolk Va, has a capacity to export 43.5 Mt/yr.
Implications: II. More pollution than the Northern Gateway Pipeline!
If these plans go ahead, the coal exported from Port Metro Vancouver would release approximately 110 Mt of heat trapping pollution into the atmosphere each year. This would make Metro Vancouver the single largest exporter of global warming pollution in North America.
By way of comparison, if the Northern Gateway pipeline were built, the exported oil would pump 7O Mt CO2/yr into to the atmosphere. In short, Port Metro Vancouver's coal export proposals are just as serious a threat to the climate as pipeline plans.
The only real difference? While the pipeline proposals are exposed to intense public scrutiny, proposals to make Greater Vancouver North America's largest export of global warming pollution are decided on by Port Metro Vancouver staff in private.
This needs to change.
For answers to the excuses commonly used to justify coal mining and export in BC, go here.