More than 200 people demonstrated at a rally in New Westminster Sunday to register their opposition to expanded exports of coal through Port Metro Vancouver.
It came as Fraser Surrey Docks is expected to soon release the results of an environmental impact assessment ordered by the port authority to further address public concerns about the project.
The terminal proposes to open a loading facility that would transfer coal coming by rail through White Rock and South Surrey to barges that would sail down the Fraser River and across the Strait of Georgia to Texada Island, where it would be transferred again to ocean-going ships.
Protesters said they’re not satisfied with assurances from Fraser Surrey Docks that coal dust will be carefully controlled and won’t escape and pose a risk to human health.
Many also oppose increased exports of U.S. thermal coal to Asia on grounds it will accelerate climate change.
“Coal dust and diesel particular matter cause a lot of respiratory illness and cancers” said Paula Williams, co-founder of the opposition group Communities and Coal. “There’s safety issues for people, there’s also emergency access cutoff.”
The new terminal would export up to four million tonnes of coal per year.
Although that’s much less than the coal shipments already is exported through the region via terminals at Deltaport and North Vancouver, opponents argue it could be a first step toward greatly increased shipments out of Surrey.
The final decision is the port’s but opponents hope intensifying public pressure and concerns lodged by some local city councils, the Metro Vancouver board and the region’s medical health officers will kill the project.
Williams was scheduled to appear before a Surrey city council committee Monday afternoon to urge the host city to join White Rock and New Westminster in formal opposition.
Activists say 11,000 people have signed a petition opposing the new coal terminal.
– with files from CTV