Vancouver Port defends findings of coal assessment

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | December 6, 2013 | Circulation: 280,000+

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Critics of a proposal to increase thermal coal exports through Port Metro Vancouver by 7.5% — or between four and eight million tons annually – are questioning a recent report that ruled the project would have no significant environmental or health impact.

But the CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks, the company pitching the proposal, told 24 Hours he stands by the environmental impact assessment conducted by SNC Lavalin, released Nov. 18.

“We’re still of the same opinion. We don’t believe it will cause a significant adverse effect,” said Jeff Scott. “We believe (the report) accomplishes the mandate we were given and the process we were to undertake and fulfilled the obligations and expectations laid upon us.”

In a teleconference organized by the environmental group Dogwood Initiative, several researchers challenged SNC Lavalin’s methods.

Clear Coast Consulting’s Andre Sobolewski said if coal dust blows off the barges bound for Texada Island, it could follow the current and wash up in marine parks.

“Some of it could sink below the surface. Particularly worrisome would be if it were deposited on the surface of kelp because that’s where herring spawn,” he said Thursday.

Tim Takaro, a Simon Fraser University health sciences professor, alleged the report incorrectly applied how much coal dust could be healthy for seniors and those with health problems.

Port Metro Vancouver declined an interview request on criticisms of the assessment, saying it wouldn’t be commenting while the process is ongoing. The public can comment until Dec. 17.

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