City of New Westminster to submit application for intervener status against proposed Fraser Surrey Docks Coal Transfer Facility
New Westminster – The City of New Westminster will be submitting an application for Intervener Status with respect to the Federal Court challenge commenced by Ecojustice Canada (formerly known as Sierra Legal Defence Fund) against the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks Coal Transfer Facility.
On August 21, 2014, Port Metro Vancouver issued a project permit to Fraser Surrey Docks which authorizes the construction and operation of a direct transfer coal facility in Surrey, B.C. The facility will load coal, primarily from the central U.S., directly from trains onto barges for transfer to overseas markets. Up to four million metric tonnes of coal is to be shipped annually with an ultimate capacity of eight million tonnes per year.
“New Westminster Council is extremely disappointed with this approval and the process leading to the decision to issue a project permit to Fraser Surrey Docks,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “Due to New Westminster’s close proximity to the proposed facility, we have serious concerns with respect to the environmental, health and safety risks that could result from this project.”
Concerns have been raised about the local environmental and health impacts of the coal facility’s operation, as well as the global impacts of expanding coal use, by various organizations including local governments, medical health officers and environmental advocacy groups. These concerns include local engine emissions from trains and tug boats, global Greenhouse Gas emissions from burning the shipped coal, dust from train movements and coal transfer operations, chemicals used in train cars and barges for dust suppression, soil and water contamination and risks related to explosions, fires, collisions and spills.
“There are a number of potential environmental issues, both local and global, and social issues, particularly related to health, that have not been resolved to the satisfaction of many local stakeholders, raising concerns about the sustainability of operating the facility,” said Mayor Wayne Wright “Additionally, we are deeply troubled by the Project Review report which indicates that no public consultation was undertaken.”
Ecojustice lawyers filed the case on September 19, 2014 on behalf of two local residents and two B.C.-based organizations, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) and Communities and Coal. Information on Ecojustice’s Notice of Application can be found at ecojustice.ca