|Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) has approved a $15 million coal loading facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, granting a permit to add a coal shipping facility to its existing terminal and adding approximately four million tonnes of thermal coal export annually. The proposed facility will transfer thermal coal arriving on rail cars from the U.S. Midwest onto barges, which would ship the coal to Texada Island for loading onto large cargo vessels for export. The potential for further expansion of the facility to transfer up to eight million tonnes of coal exists, with another, future review.The BC Chamber has welcomed the announcement.
“We support both the rigorous process that was undertaken to assess this proposal, and the decision to approve the project, which will create 50 direct and indirect local jobs plus increase B.C.’s coal-export capacity,” said John Winter, BC Chamber president and CEO.
PMV has included several conditions for Fraser Surrey Docks to meet with respect to unloading coal to reduce the ecological and health impacts of coal dust. However, the permit does not specifically require Fraser Surrey Docks to comply with air-emission requirements of the Metro Vancouver regional district.
PMV’s granting of the permit to Fraser Surrey Docks comes amidst environmental and health concerns from local municipalities, environmental groups and residents largely related to concerns about greenhouse gas emission from coal burning, along with potential local health effects from coal dust and train emissions. Last September, PMV ordered Fraser Surrey Docks to assess the health and ecological effects of its coal-handling facility in response to these concerns. The assessment, released last November, found that the project would “not likely cause significant adverse effects to the environment or human health.” The assessment was criticized by the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Valley health authorities’ chief medical health officers as being inadequate.