Delta/Surrey Residents Raise Dust Over U.S. Coal Exports
Prior to the Metro Vancouver meeting Friday, June 14th over the import/export of U.S. coal in the Lower Mainland, a forum on coal was held by Burns Bog Conservation Society and the Wilderness Committee. The forum, held on Wednesday June 12th at the Delta Golf Course (11550 No. 10 Road), was attended by over 200 Delta and Surrey residents. The forum told residents that the coal terminal expansion at Fraser Surrey Docks would result in 175 car train travelling through the community, 4 times a day. At the time, a coal train was sitting on the tracks less than 50 meters from the meeting.
The "Raging Grannies" opened with 3 original anti-coal ditties, including "Tell the Port Authority." Following their performance, Wilderness Committee's Eoin Madden, former Irish Crown prosecutor turned Climate Change Campaigner, spoke about the dangers of exporting U.S. coal through Surrey and Delta. These include climate change, health issues from coal dust, safety and environmental issues, and extensive damage to fisheries. The coal port expansion will only create 25 jobs.
Dr. Frank James, M.D., a Bellingham physician gave examples of health issues present in related coal port expansion locations: increase in pulmonary disease, cardiac disease, neurological issues, and asthma rates doubling. Dr. James works alongside 200 other doctors researching the health risks of coal.
Eliza Olson, President of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, ended the evening speaking about Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. Much like the Kyoto Protocol, the globally recognized Ramsar agreement is a morally binding agreement to protect wetlands that are considered of international biological importance. The trains will travel through 4 of the six wetlands in the Fraser River Ramsar site. Burns Bog, along with South Arm Marshes, Boundary Bay and Serpentine, all threatened by the coal trains, became Ramsar designated in September 2012.
The Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad is already being sued for damage to the Bog. The train tracks were sinking into the soft soil along the Bog's lagg (edge) and needed to be reinforced with boulders to prevent a possible crash. Some of these boulders were allegedly dumped into Davies Creek. If a coal train were to crash in the Bog, the result would be devastating to the bog and surrounding homes, especially if the train caught fire.
Friday June 14th, Metro Vancouver held a public hearing to discuss the coal terminal expansion on the Fraser River. They heard over 40 submissions, many from concerned local residents, in the 6.5 hour meeting. Metro Vancouver voted 21-4 in opposition to the coal port expansion. Several representatives concluded that a more in-depth look at the health risks associated with the coal terminal was needed. This could take anywhere from 6-12 months to complete. Mayor Lois Jackson absented herself from the vote.
Richmond Counsellor Harold Steves spoke out against coal through Delta/Surrey for personal reasons. He talked about his asthma being the result of burning coal in the house as a child. After recently spending 5 days in China with its coal-laden air he experienced a severe increase in his asthma.
Although the final decision regarding the coal terminal expansion lies with Port Metro Vancouver, this is a step in the right direction. So far Port Metro Vancouver has not followed Metro Vancouver's example and is refusing to hold a formal public hearing.
Eoin Madden of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee:
Eliza Olson of Burns Bog Conservation Society:
Counsellor Harold Steves
Information on Ramsar Wetlands
Contact Info: Kim Pringle
Burns Bog Conservation Society
4-7953 120th Street
Delta, BC V4C 6P6
604-572-0373 | 1-888-850-6264
Website : Burns Bog Conservation Society