Environmental groups file lawsuit against Surrey coal port

SURREY — Two Surrey residents along with local environmental groups have launched a federal court challenge over the recently approved coal transport facility Fraser Surrey Docks, alleging the Port Authority granting the application were biased in their deliberations.

The 13-page application for judicial review was filed by lawyers for Ecojustice on behalf of Surrey residents Christine Dujmovich and Paula Williams, along with the B.C.-based organizations Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) and Communities and Coal.

“Our clients were there every step the way and they saw conduct that suggests Port Metro Vancouver’s approval was a done deal before the permit review process had even concluded,” said Karen Campbell, Ecojustice staff lawyer. “Our clients’ case not only alleges bias, it also challenges the Port’s failure to consider the dangerous climate impacts of burning the coal once it reaches Asia.”

The application requests that a federal court declare that the Port failed to observe the principles of natural justice, procedural fairness, and the rule against bias during the project review process.

Port Metro Vancouver approved the $15-million coal facility in August, which will import up to four megatons of thermal coal annually in open-car rail from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through White Rock, Delta, and then onto barges at Fraser Surrey Docks.

The coal would then be transported along the Fraser River to Texada Island for loading onto deepsea vessels to feed China’s growing thirst for coal.

Both the transportation of coal and the burning of fossil fuels for energy are sticking points for Williams, who lives adjacent to the coal port.

“Local communities will be burdened with the immediate health risks of increased coal transport and then saddled with the impacts of climate change, which are already appearing,” said Williams, who is a co-founder of Communities and Coal. “We’re getting hit with a double whammy so that coal companies and the Port can make a quick buck."

Port Metro Vancouver defended the process when they approved the application last month, spending six months reviewing feedback from their public consultation period, which ended in December 2013.

“The decision to permit the proposed coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks was not one we took lightly,” Port Metro Vancouver’s VP of planning and operations Peter Xotta said at the time. “Through our comprehensive project review process, stakeholder consultation, as well as third-party validated environmental and health studies, it was determined there are no unacceptable risks and the project could be permitted.”

But the decision went against overwhelming public opposition, both in Surrey and surrounding communities impacted by the delivery of coal. Municipalities like Surrey and Delta said they could not support the project without a third-party health-impact assessment and public hearings, while White Rock outright rejected it.

Also opposed to the idea were the province’s two public health officers, both of whom wanted more research to be done regarding the long-term health effects the facility and increased coal train traffic would have on surrounding neighbourhoods.

The project will also see an increase of 640 train trips through White Rock, Surrey and Delta annually, as one train per day means a trip to and from the facility.

That number could also double over the next five years.

–with files from Christopher Poon

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Quarantined Surrey mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Cloverdale’s Christine Williamson shares her family’s challenges, strengths

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

World COVID-19 update: Six million U.S. jobless claims; Russia sends medical aid to U.S.

Comprehensive update with COVID-19 news from around the world

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read