An environmental assessment about the proposed coal facility in Surrey is “woefully inadequate” – but the findings come as no surprise to a local environmentalist.
Fraser Surrey Docks hired SNC-Lavalin to conduct an environmental impact assessment of its proposed coal transfer project in Surrey. The company concluded that the project will not cause significant adverse environmental, socio-economic or health effects.
“The health authorities have reacted strongly to it, negatively to it. I think that speaks volumes,” said Andrew Murray, coal spokesperson for New Westminster Environmental Partners. “It was just an exercise to appease, a PR exercise more than anything else. They only looked at the Fraser Surrey Docks. They didn’t look at anything that happens between the border and Fraser Surrey - it is woefully inadequate.”
Fraser Surrey Docks has applied to Port Metro Vancouver for a permit to operate a coal transfer facility, where coal arriving on trains from the United States would be loaded on to barges and shipped to Texada Island and then to China. It’s proposed that the facility would handle between four million and eight million metric tonnes of coal annually.
“It was entirely predictable,” Murray said of the assessment. “I think the fact that Dr. Patricia Daly and Dr. Paul Van Buynder of the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities have both looked at it and said it is woefully inadequate, I think that speaks volumes. I think that is who we should be putting our faith in, is the health authorities.”
The physicians stated that the assessment of health impacts was disappointing and received minimal attention in the document. They also said the report doesn’t meet what they consider the most basic requirements of a health impacts assessment.
Murray said a proper health impact assessment is needed, not a quick analysis by a company that has worked for the company proposing the coal transfer facility.
After releasing SNC-Lavalin’s assessment, Fraser Surrey Docks began a 30-day consultation process that will end on Dec. 17.
In October, New Westminster Environmental Partners joined other environmental organizations in hosting a rally attended by several hundred people at Westminster Quay. The local group will continue to take part in town hall meetings and lobby city councils to oppose the coal facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.
“The process continues,” Murray said. “We continue to challenge their credibility. There is something called social licence. It’s pretty clear they don’t have the social licence to move forward.”
The report is available on the Port Metro Vancouver’s website. Search for Fraser Surrey Docks in the search box and follow the links to the report.
“The opposition will be there every step of the way,” Murray pledged. “They don’t take into consideration the global impacts of exporting thermal coal. We question what the end game is. We continue on. We still believe this is not a done deal. The bigger issue is Port Metro Vancouver. They cannot run ramshackle over democratically elected governments and the regional growth plans we spent years putting together.”
Fraser Surrey Docks has applied to Port Metro Vancouver for a permit to build the facility on a site located across the river from Westminster Quay and Queensborough.
New Westminster city council has opposed the project, and more than 1,000 local residents signed a petition opposing the project. Several hundred people attended a rally against the project at Westminster Quay last month.
Anyone wishing to comment on the assessment can email FSD-EIA@portmetrovancouver.com, fax 1-866-284-4271. Written responses can be forwarded to Tim Blair, senior planner, Port Metro Vancouver, 100 The Pointe, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, B.C., V6C 3T4.