UPDATED: Port Metro Vancouver approves coal transfer facility

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UPDATED: Port Metro Vancouver approves coal transfer facility

Port Metro Vancouver has approved a $15-million thermal coal transfer facility proposed by Fraser Surrey Docks.

FSD president Jeff Scott says this means 25 new jobs, and no negative effects on human health, despite many months of concern raised by residents about coal dust living along the Fraser River.

The new terminal will be able to handle up to four million tonnes of coal per year, shipped in by train. The coal will be barged onto the Fraser up to Texada Island and onto Asian markets.

Scott changes have been made to reduce the impact of coal dust from the project and protect the environment and human health.

“The findings out of that assessment, you know, again that process in there was very comprehensive, it followed Health Canada standards and guidelines, and the assessment resulted in a positive conclusion that there would not be significant impact to the community.”

Both Vancouver Coast Health and Fraser Health said earlier this year that a health assessment funded by Fraser Surrey Docks didn’t provided enough information to weigh potential impacts.

Port Metro Vancouver ordered the company to conduct a new one, and today says “there are no unacceptable risks.”

Scott expects the project to be complete by the fall of 2015.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder with the Fraser Health Authority was one of two medical health officers who criticized Fraser Surrey Docks’ previous efforts at conducting a health impact assessment. He said there wasn’t enough information to even determine whether the environmental effects from the project would be harmful or not.

Today, he says he’s disappointed the facility has been approved before they had a chance to look at the new information collected.

“Sadly for the people of the Lower Mainland, it will probably require demonstrable impacts of the Fraser Surrey Docks expansion for public health to intervene and say stop or change it.”

He says he and his colleagues are reviewing the documents they’ve now received on the expansion.