Vancity dissatisfied with Fraser Surrey Docks environmental review of proposed coal facility

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B.C.'s biggest credit union has criticized Surrey Fraser Docks' environmental impact assessment of a proposed Direct Transfer Coal Facility, calling it "entirely inadequate".

Vancity's regional director of community member services, Mike Matsuo, wrote to Port Metro Vancouver today (December 16) to say that credit-union officials have analyzed an evaluation by the chief medical health officers of Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Based on this, Vancity has concluded that "Port Metro Vancouver must not move forward on the proposed Direct Coal Transfer Facility until the important issues raised by the two health authorities are addressed to their satisfaction."

"Moving forward on any proposal without an EIA that meets the basic requirements of the local health authorities would, in our view, be ill-advised," Matsuo wrote.

The environmental-impact assessment was prepared by SNC-Lavalin.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway, which is controlled by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett's holding company, wants to import coal to the Direct Transfer Coal Facility, which would handle an additional four million metric tonnes per year.

From there, the coal would be shipped on barges to Texada Island for export. The application includes a potential to eventually increase the annual shipments to eight million metric tonnes per year.

According to the chief medical health officers, Paul Van Buynder and Patricia Daly, most of the modelling work about the project's effects was done by Levelton Consultants Inc.

"The assessment of potential health impacts is particularly disappointing, and receives minimal attention in the document," Van Buynder and Daly wrote. "Of note, much greater consideration is given to the potential effects of the project on plants, fish and wildlife than to people. The report does not meet even the most basic requirements of a health impact assessment."

They went on to say that SNC-Lavalin included a four-page summary describing general air toxins and their health effects, but there was "no link to this project".

"The appendix includes a short letter written by a toxicologist, Dr. Leonard Ritter, with his opinion about the potential health impacts of coal dust," Van Buynder and Daly added. "The letter is based on the assumption that the Levelton model is accurate, and includes only a single reference pertaining to the potential health impacts of coal dust. No discussion is included of any other potential health impacts. This single toxicologist’s opinion does not meet the standards of a health impact assessment."

Last May, Fraser Surrey Docks CEO Jeff Scott told the media that he believes the proposed project "delivers environmental standards that we all expect and deserve".

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Kevin Washbrook
Thank you Vancity! To direct your own comments to the Port Authority on their appalling environmental impact assessment, visit http://realporthearings.org

You can use the email tool there to send comments directly to the port, view the +2300 other comments already submitted, and scan the evergrowing number of expert critiques of the review of this coal export project.
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