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Council wants coal port review

New Westminster council is firing off a letter to Port Metro Vancouver opposing its plans to establish a coal transfer terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks without a comprehensive environmental review.

The city also wants the port authority to meet to discuss the proposal to transfer coal from trains coming from the United States onto barges.

Coun. Bill Harper said New Westminster is not only worried about coal dust floating across the river but also about the possibility coal could be spilled into the Fraser River.

“Given the situation of creating a coal port on the side of a river that runs at eight knots—and it’s the dirtiest of coal… What about 100-mile-an-hour winds and conveyor belts, and the fact there could be spillage?” said Harper.

What also bothers Harper is Port Metro Vancouver is “a government unto itself.”

“Internal reviews are not subject to public discussion or scrutiny,” said Harper. “The port authority doesn’t seem to want to come clean on what the real project is.”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson have also voiced their concerns about the plans, which also include expansion of an existing coal terminal in North Vancouver.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts told Black Press she has not taken a position on the proposal while Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt said no residents have raised the issue with him.

North Vancouver city council has not taken a position on the expansion proposal for Neptune Terminals’ expansion. Mayor Darrell Mussatto told Black Press the current coal transfer isn’t an issue because it’s used for steelmaking and not to burn to generate energy.

The Fraser Surrey Docks proposal would see the terminal handling four million tonnes of coal initially and then later doubling to eight million.

– with files

from Jeff Nagel

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