Dirty outcomes with coal
In a recent column (“Joe Oliver on oil, gas and coal,” The Leader, March 5), Tom Fletcher quotes Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver as saying, “Coal is contributing 40 times the greenhouse gas emissions of the oil sands.”
The minister also states that the Stephen Harper government’s objective is to see all Canadian coal-fired electricity plants closed.
What kind of double-speak is this? If coal is such a bad fuel, and if the Harper government is committed to phasing out coal-fired plants in Canada, then it’s totally counter-productive to be shipping millions of tonnes of it every year from Port Metro Vancouver to China – where it is burned in plants that are no doubt far dirtier than ones here.
Air pollution and greenhouse gases know no boundaries. What pollutes China will come back to pollute Canada too. While a few large corporations enjoy huge profits, we taxpayers are on the hook for the health and environmental fallout.
As if massive coal exports weren’t outrageous enough in themselves, now the plan is to bring eight million tonnes of the stuff each year to Fraser Surrey Docks – in open rail cars, straight through North Delta’s priceless natural corridor. The trains will run mere metres from the best salmon spawning grounds on Watershed Creek and Cougar Creek, and then right through the heart of the Delta Nature Reserve (the public-access portion of Burns Bog).
Even more astounding, the coal will be transferred to barges right on B.C.’s greatest salmon river, the Fraser.
We’re told that only “small” amounts of coal dust will escape the trains, and that toxic heavy metals associated with coal are “less likely” to be in airborne dust than in lumps of coal. Nonsense! Small amounts, multiplied many times, become very large and harmful amounts.
It doesn’t take a massive spill to destroy human and environmental health, all it takes is the day-in day-out deposition of “small” amounts of coal dust.
Wikipedia says Port Metro Vancouver and Fraser Surrey Docks are accountable to the federal minister of transport. If that’s the case, then I call on Transport Minister Denis Lebel to mandate zero tolerance of coal dust in all phases of transport and handling. Better yet, phase out coal transport entirely and re-direct the investment into clean energy.
Cougar Creek Streamkeepers, Delta