Thursday, September 26, 2013

For Immediate Release

September 26 2013

Environment, health experts to Port: rethink coal export Environmental Impact Assessment
-- proposed assessment of Fraser Surrey Docks coal port is inadequate, fatally flawed.

Vancouver -- In an open letter sent today, leading health and environment experts call on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to scrap its recently announced Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Fraser Surrey Docks coal port and start over.  

The letter calls for the Port to work with key stakeholders to develop the terms of reference and scope for a proper environmental impact assessment of this controversial project, and to simultaneously work with Health Authorities to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the proposal.

Letter signatories include leading experts in the field of environment and health impact assessment, public policy and public health; impact assessment practitioners; and physicians from Washington who have been active in the effort to ensure a comprehensive health impact assessment is undertaken for proposed coal export facilities in that state.

The letter details shortcomings in the announced study and concludes that it is fundamentally flawed and fails to live up to best practices for EIA's.  The letter asks the Port to abandon the announced study and start over.

"The idea of an environmental assessment being completed in two weeks is a travesty," said David Boyd, environmental lawyer and professor of resource and environmental management. "Coal exports have huge consequences for human health and the environment, and should be subject to rigorous scrutiny by both experts and the concerned public."

The letter goes on to request that the Port work with Health Authorities to conduct a comprehensive HIA of all coal export expansion proposals in Metro Vancouver.  HIA's examine a much broader range of impacts on human health than can be captured in an EIA alone.

"There is substantial data published in the medical literature showing that people living along busy transport corridors or near coal port facilities have 20 to 50% increases in rates of asthma, emphysema, cardiac d
isease,  and malignancy," said Dr Frank James, medical health officer for San Juan County Washington.

"A hastily conceived, poorly done Environmental Impact Assessment is not adequate. A full formal, objective, independent Health Impact Assessment as has been called for by the Provincial Health officer and Health Officers in Metro Vancouver is exactly what is needed and is the only way the true cost to the communities' health can be measured."

The letter concludes by requesting that the new EIA and HIA look at local impacts from the time coal enters the region  by train on its way to Fraser Surrey Docks until it enters international waters after being loaded onto ocean going vessels on Texada. The letter also requests that the port evaluate climate change impacts from burning the exported coal, as the state of Washington has required in the EIA for the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point.

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