Vancouver coal port gets environmental nod

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | November 18, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+

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A controversial proposal to boost coal exports to Asia through the Lower Mainland has moved a step forward with a positive environmental review released Monday.

Fraser Surrey Docks released the results of a study required by Port Metro Vancouver on the impacts of its planned coal terminal, which would transfer between four and eight million tons from trains to barges bound for Texada Island. The study, conducted by SNC Lavalin, deemed the project would not have a significant impact on the environment or neighbours. The CEO of the company behind the proposal told 24 hours he’s “pleased,” but not surprised by the conclusions.

“We have spent a lot of time analyzing the project,” Jeff Scott said. “We’ve had that confidence all along.

“We’ve looked at this very thoroughly, we want to ensure the general public has the same confidence that we do in this project.”

But Laura Benson, coal campaign director for Dogwood Initiative, questioned the findings, adding that Port Metro Vancouver must “go back to the drawing board” with a health impacts review proposed by the chief medical officers of both Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities.

“We were very skeptical from the time this assessment was announced that it would be up to snuff,” Benson said in a statement. “Port Metro Vancouver has once again refused to fulfill its duties to protect the public interest with this faulty assessment.”

But Scott said the environmental assessment considered health effects and cited revisions to prevent a coal stockpile and boost spraying to reduce dust en route. PMV is seeking public comment on the study.

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