In the rush to sell coal to China, the industry has ignored two factors.
One is what happens to the coal when it reaches its final destination?
In recent years coal has been regarded as a dirty, polluting product but there have been attempts to dress it up with claims of clean or refined coal and this is what I assumed was being sold to China until recently when the high pollution level in China’s Heilongjiang province was revealed.
So it is certain that North American coal is adding to China’s pollution woes.
Secondly, there are two local issues that have not yet been seen in a single context. The Fraser Surrey Docks coal port has plans to barge coal to a holding facility on Texada Island and this combined with the expected increase in west-bound tanker traffic from the Burrard Inlet Kinder Morgan facility will see them exiting from English Bay and crossing through the north-bound coal barges.
Subsequently, coal-carrying ships from Texada will head south to converge on the same route as the Kinder Morgan tankers.
If all three routes are permitted, when added to the existing long-established grain-ship traffic, the summer cruise ships and the regular B.C. Ferries’ routes, it will create a concentration of shipping in the lower Strait of Georgia not seen before.
Even if there is a risk assessment, there is no absolute fail-safe, as has been proved many times with marine accidents, and if a collision occurs it will be catastrophic.