Coal Proposal Could Increase Air Pollution For Surrey-Delta Residents

thermal coal

Concerned Citizens Call For Full Public Hearings & Full Health Impact Assessment

Communities and Coal is concerned about the impact of Transport of thermal coal from the US through White Rock (Surrey) and other parts of the Lower Mainland to terminals in BC for shipment overseas.

Communities and Coal is a grassroots group started by residents of South Surrey opposed to the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal to ship US Thermal Coal through BC communities. This group has expanded to White Rock, Delta, Surrey, New Westminster and beyond, including the areas near Texada Island.

The goal of this group is to stop the proposal for a coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, and to stop the transport of US thermal coal through BC.

Within three months, communities and coal have managed to obtain almost 11,000 signatures from residents who are opposed to this proposal. Concerns include health, safety, noise, foundation vibration, property values, environmental impacts on air, land, and water, derailment risks, emergency access limitations, climate change, et cetera. The petition was created by residents, for residents. Communities are coming together to make their voices louder, demanding a Comprehensive Health Impact Assessment as well as public hearings, as they believe the proposal needs to be proven safe on all levels before it is allowed to proceed.

On Sunday Oct 27th, Communities and Coal will be organising a rally — Take Back our Port Rally – in New Westminster (It’s Time to Take Back Our Port! Noon Sunday Oct 27th at New West Quay)

Steven Faraher-Amidon, a volunteer who works actively for Coal and Communities told The Voice, We value healthy communities & a safe climate. We want to protect farmland, Orcas, Fraser River salmon, Burns Bog and everything else that makes our region special.

All these are threatened by massive port expansion and the push to export more oil and coal from Metro Vancouver. If you share our concerns, please join us on Oct 27th so together we can start taking back our port.

We deserve a say in how our region develops, but our Port Authority isn’t listening. They’re making big plans behind closed doors — plans that will impact our health, our communities, our climate and our future. It’s time we open up those doors and demand a seat at the table.

Paula Williams is the co-founder of Communities and Coal and she will be one of the speakers at the rally on Sunday.

As Steven explains Coal and Communities want to stop thermal coal shipments from the US for the following reasons-

The Issue:

• Thermal coal is transported in open box cars from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana.
• Thermal coal (for electricity) is different from metallurgical coal (for steel making).

• Coal now comes via Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (BNSF) to Westshore Terminal in Delta (Roberts Bank).
• A new terminal planned on the Fraser River (Fraser Surrey Docks) will add considerably to current train traffic.

• Coal trains are much heavier and longer than regular trains (2.5k in length, 130 cars)
• There are concerns regarding maintenance of both rail lines and trestles, built decades ago, which could result in derailments, and/or the collapse of trestles.
• Longer trains make for longer delays in emergency vehicle (fire, ambulance) response times.
• With the building of a new terminal at Surrey Fraser Docks, the number of trains will increase dramatically. Health Hazards – known dangers
• Coal dust, which contains toxic heavy metals, is associated with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

• Diesel particulate matter expelled from locomotives (invisible to the naked eye) is associated with:
(a) impaired pulmonary development in adolescents;
(b) increased cardiopulmonary mortality and all-cause mortality;
(c) measurable pulmonary inflammation;
(d) increased severity and frequency of asthma attacks, ER visits and hospital admissions in children;
(e) increased rates of heart attacks in adults; and (f) increased risk of cancer.

• Noise pollution (e.g. train whistles) has been associated with:
(a) cardiovascular disease;
(b) cognitive impairment in children; and(c) severe sleep disturbance resulting in increased fatigue and hypertension.

Young children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to these health hazards.

Environmental Hazards

• Each railway car loses between 500 lbs. to a ton of coal dust en route from the Powder River Basin.

• This dust, and the diesel particulate matter, are serious pollutants to our water, air and land, affecting fisheries, recreation, and agriculture in addition to our health.

• The burning of Thermal Coal in foreign markets for fuel significantly contributes to climate change Economics.

• The proposed port at Fraser Surrey Docks will add only about 25-50 jobs locally.

• Health issues will increase the cost of our already stretched health care system.

• The negative impact on our environment will most certainly affect our property values.
The Decision Maker

• Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest and busiest port. The have a government appointed Board of Directors who have the authority to pass or deny Fraser Surrey Dock’s permit proposal.