Texada Coal Proposal update

Here is an update (from Donald Gordon) on the proposal to trans-ship US Powder River Coal through Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island (Lafarge) just north of Gillies Bay:


HI folks,
I haven't sent out an update about the fight against the FSD-Texada Coal Port for awhile.  The good news is:  This has become a tougher and messier fight than the Port of Metro Vancouver ever anticipated, with many people doing fantastic, totally unpaid, work for the good of their communities.

Here are a couple of developments at the Texada end:

Firstly, In response to various government ministries and agencies stonewalling our requests for information regarding the Texada coal port proposal, we submitted today a "Freedom of Information" request.

This legally requires that the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), and the Ministry of Energy and Mines release the information and inter-agency discussions hinted at in EAO response to letters sent regarding Lafarge's Texada permit.

That should end the stonewalling.

Secondly, being as the Minister of Mines has indicated his support for this project due to the "fact" that Lafarge is following all relevant regulations, we feel that we have to spend some of our scarce resources to clearly and scientifically demonstrate that Lafarge is not, in fact, following regulations and is breaking the terms of its existing permit, so certainly should not be receiving approval for a 22-fold expansion to capacity.

Their existing permit states that:

"1) The loading of ships with coal shall be carried out in such a manner as to prevent coal from entering the water or foreshore.
2) Dust suppression equipment such as sprinkling systems to be available to prevent coal or dust the leaving the stockpile area"
As the attached photos show, coal and coal particulate is clearly entering the water and foreshore.  One can safely assume that it is also being ingested by shellfish and humans who consume the shellfish.  However, no action has been taken against Lafarge by either DFO, the Ministry of the Environment, or the Ministry of Energy and Mines.  Being as no enforcement is being done, the various ministries can state their support for the project as they have "no record of any violations".

If government agencies will not enforce the law, it seems that it has to come down to us, all of us, to do it.  If the government of BC is not forced to uphold the law on the coast of Texada and the Georgia Strait, what better place should we all draw the line in the sand?

So now we are building the legal and technical case so that we can move this to the next level.

Volunteers recently walked up the shore of Texada south of the existing coal terminal, gathering samples of beach sediment and oysters.  All the sample locations were marked by GPS.

Now the samples are in Vancouver and ready for lab analysis for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, toxic material contained in coal.

Our problem at the moment is that we have lots of energy and very little money.  Analysis of each oyster sample costs (amazingly) $250, each beach sediment sample is $175.  We would like to do 2 beach samples and 8 oyster samples.  (We have more samples than this gathered, but we are using our pennies as effectively as possible).  So if we can gather up $2000 in twoonies and Twenties, we can get enough lab analysis done to go public with this.

In fact, certain media may be interested in the story that enforcement of environmental regulations in BC has come down to concerned individuals pooling their dollars, energy, and gumboots to force it to happen.

If you, or someone you know, are able to chip in to the "Texada Beach and Oyster Analysis Fund", please let me know by email.  Cheques can be made out to VTACC (Voters Taking Action on Climate Change).  Our address is: Box 74504, Kitsilano RPO, Vancouver V6K 4P4.  We are a registered society, but not a charity, as charities aren't allowed to do any real fighting against political decisions!

Thanks again to the volunteers who took the attached photographs, gathered and mapped the necessary samples, and got them to Vancouver.  Unfortunately, I cannot name them, due to the personal risk that they have taken on to do this.  They have done excellent and valuable work and deserve thanks from all of us.

Donald Gordon


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update February 15 lab testing

(PJ: those of you who would like to get onto Donald Gordon's email list, to get these bits of information directly, email him at emailfordonald [at] yahoo [dot] ca )

What a fantastic, get-it-done group of people you all are!

Thanks for all your rapid responses and commitments to the request for contributions. As a result, we submitted six samples of Texada beach and oysters at the lab for analysis on Thursday. (2 beach, 4 oysters).

The analysis will survey the extent of contamination by PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) as a result of Lafarge's existing coal handling on Texada. I believe that this will show that Lafarge has been breaking the terms of its existing permit for years. This will give grounds to argue that the provincial government must not give it approval for a 20-fold expansion to that permit for handling the Powder River coal that no port community south of the border wants to handle.

Below is the list of toxic PAHs that the lab will check the oysters for, many of which are released by coal. They really don't sound like compounds that you or I or any creature should be eating.

Acenaphthene, Acenaphthylene, Anthracene, Benz(a)anthracene, Benzo(a)pyrene, Benzo(b)fluoranthene, Benzo(g,h,i)perylene, Benzo(k)fluoranthene, Chrysene, Dibenz(a,h)anthracene, Fluoranthene

The two beach samples will take 10 days, while the oysters will take up to six weeks. We will then send the analysis off to an expert for interpretation.

When a few of us visited the beach adjacent to the coal facility in July, a Lafarge employee informed us that First Nations harvest oysters regularly from this oyster bed. They may be interested in the results as well.

For those of you who have not seen it yet, below is the satellite image of the existing Texada coal facility. It also shows the beach where some of the samples and photos came from. Can you guess which beach is downwind of summer northwesterlies, when the coal pile is drier and more easily blown? The image is from May 2009.

(PJ: I couldn't copy the image, so it's not here.)

Here's to dropping another wrench into the gears of a reckless and irresponsible plan.

Thanks again everybody, for your many forms of support!
Donald Gordon

another update, another delay

Here is the text of an email that Donald sent out on Feb 19:

Hi all,
Significant news! The push-back has bought us some time again! But many details of the new requirements are still kept deliberately unclear, scope is minimized, and they still want a closed-door process.

Due to the extent and magnitude of the organized push-back that they have received, it seems like the Port of Metro Vancouver is realizing that they would be walking themselves into an insurrection to push through their approval prior to at least seeming to address the concerns of the Health Authorities and local governments. A real HIA (Health Impact Assessment) would take 6 to 12 months to undertake. This would be after a long period of "scoping" to decide who and what are to be included in the HIA.

So the good news is that we have a "delay" of unclear length. A delay is a good start and can be useful. The bad news is that this is not a real HIA.
No only is this is not a real HIA, but it seems to not include any impacts beyond the Surrey Fraser Docks. Certainly there is no mention of assessing the health impacts on Texada.

Port officials said Wednesday an environmental impact assessment submitted by Fraser Surrey Docks in November did not include enough information on the potential human health impacts of the $15-million project.
The terminal owner has been directed to provide further documentation related to the health impacts.
The port says it won't accept more formal public or agency comments after receiving the new information.
Instead, it will then complete the project review and issue a decision.

The question is, how we can use this delay and opening of the Pandora's Box to force the real appraisal of health impacts. And how to we get Texada included as an impacted community, as well as communities along the rail and barge route, from the US border to Lasqueti Island? We are going to need to be very loud about this incredible double standard.

Below is the link to a short article, followed by VTACC press release in response.

As we discover more, I will keep you posted. Meanwhile, tonight lets raise a drink to a delay!

Donald Gordon

Just out now, broke by Metro News http://metronews.ca/news/vancouver/947322/port-delays-decision-on-surrey...

For Immediate release

February 19 2014

Port Announces New Study of Health Impacts of FS Docks Coal Export Plan, Many Unanswered Questions
-- applies only to Fraser Surrey Docks: why are residents impacted by Neptune expansion or Texada Island denied the same revised assessment?

Vancouver -- the Port Authority today announced a new health impact study requirement for the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal port.

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change puts forward the following questions that should be answered regarding the announced study:


will impacts associated with shipping coal by rail (diesel exhaust, coal dust, delays, and especially noise impacts, which were largely overlooked in the EIA) be included in the study?
will impacts associated with shipping coal by barge to Texada Island be included? Potential impacts to communities on Texada?
why isn't the Port requiring Fraser Surrey Docks to reassess environmental impacts, when their review under the previous EIA was also heavily critiqued?

Terms of reference

Were the Health Authorities/Medical Health Officers involved in setting the terms of reference for the study? Were they involved in selecting the consultants to conduct the study? Will the public be consulted on issues and concerns to be addressed in the study? All of these topics must be addressed for the study to be credible and transparent.

Neptune Terminals

it appears this revised health study only addresses the Fraser Surrey Docks project. Both the City of North Vancouver and Burnaby have called for a Health Impact Assessment of the Neptune Terminals expansion. That project will see a potential tripling of coal movements through Burnaby and North Vancouver -- from the current level of approximately 6 million tonnes/yr to 18.5 million/tonnes/yr. The Neptune and Fraser Surrey Docks were both submitted to the Port Authority in mid 2012; the Neptune project was rushed through approved by January 2013 and the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal is still under study, even though it is smaller in size.
There is no reason to believe that potential health impacts from the Neptune expansion were given any more careful consideration than has been the case to date with the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal. Residents in North Vancouver, Burnaby and down the rail line from Neptune Terminals deserve the same careful analysis of potential health risks as residents in Surrey, Delta and White Rock are expecting on the FS Docks proposal.

Cumulative impacts of all expansion

recently the Port Authority approved a $230M upgrade to Westshore Terminals in Delta that could see up to one more coal train per day running to that facility. Why hasn't the Port Authority committed to a cumulative health impact assessment of all coal export proposals, rather than pursuing this piecemeal approach?

Climate Impacts
Voters Taking Action on Climate Change appreciates that the Port Authority has begun to respond to public concerns over expanded coal exports. However, in the case of the proposal to export US thermal coal from Fraser Surrey Docks, our over riding concern remains the same: the proposal is incompatible with what needs to be done to avoid runaway climate change.
The province of BC banned thermal coal electricity generation in 2007 because of its climate impacts. Today's BC government promotes LNG exports to help Asian countries reduce the use of thermal coal for the same reason. The International Energy Agency says that 80 percent of remaining thermal coal must remain in the ground to avoid a climate disaster. The Fraser Surrey Docks project brings minimal benefit to BC and puts our future at risk. It should be cancelled.
-- 30--

update from Donald

...similar in size to the Texada plan for American coal.

More and more American communities and cities are stopping the coal industry's plans for expanding exports. This is good news for the San Francisco Bay Area, but increases the pressure to use BC as the export route.

When will our provincial government respond to our same opposition to ingesting the same impacts?
Only when we force them to, it seems.

Thanks again everybody who is assisting us with building our newest stumbling block. Getting the requirements to oppose multi-billion dollar US companies and the BC government doesn't come cheap.

Feel free to forward this to your Californian friends who are breathing a bit easier, and invite them up to the BC coast!

Keep sharpening your pitchforks,
Donald Gordon

PS The original Texda application was for 8 million tonnes/ year. Suddenly FSD reduced it (for optical reasons I am sure) to "4 million tonnes, with the ability to raise the quantity to 8 million tonnes/year without having to get further permits". So voila, to the uninformed public, they just "reduced" it to a 4 million tonne plan instead of an 8 million tonne plan. But with so little new export capacity being permitted in the US, you can bet the Texada plan will not be kept at 4 million tonnes if we allow the route to open up.

Port of Oakland Rejects Proposals To Construct New Coal Export Terminal


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