- BC Games
Doctors speak out against coal terminal
A group of doctors is speaking out against a proposal to ship thermal coal mined in Montana and Wyoming through BC ports to markets in Asia.
The Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment says the shipping of that coal by rail through BC communities, then transferred to barges at a new facility being proposed at Fraser Surrey Docks for transport to Texada Island where it will be loaded onto ocean-going ships "may bring serious health effects from diesel particulate matter and coal dust."
Those health effects could include an increased risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema as well as more severe and frequent asthma attacks in children, said the group's executive director Gideon Forman, in an open letter.
"Our doctors' organization strongly opposes these coal shipments," he added.
Plans announced last week by Fraser Surrey Docks to minimize the chances for coal dust to blow around, including the elimination of coal stockpiles awaiting shipment and the addition of topping and binding agents to the coal to suppress dust as its moved by rail or transferred to the barges haven't eased critics' concerns about the proposal.
"Finally… Canadian doctors are ready to call a spade a spade and speak out," said Paula Williams, the co-founder of Communities and Coal that opposes the construction of the coal transfer facility.
Last week New West city council directed staff to gather more information about Fraser Surrey Docks' additional proposals to see if they addressed residents' concerns about coal dust blowing from the facility, which will be located about 2000 metres across the Fraser River from the city's waterfront.
Fraser Surrey Docks has also been tasked by Port Metro Vancouver to submit an environmental assessment of the transfer facility. That assessment, to be conducted by consulting firm SNC-Lavalin, is expected to be completed by the end of September.
Port Metro Vancouver said it will give local governments, health authorities and First Nations groups a chance to comment on the assessment's findings.