Monday, November 4, 2013

City of Langley supports Health Authorities' call for Health Impact Assessment due to increased coal exports

About a month ago, the City of Langley Parks and Environment Advisory Committee (which I am a member of) heard from Dr. Frank James, MD, who is the Public Health Officer for San Juan County in Washington. He gave a presentation about the negative health effects due to the transportation, storage, and use of coal. You can read more about this on a previous post about his presentation.

One of the things that he noted was that the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities were requested that Port Metro Vancouver perform a Health Impact Assessment for the proposed plan to massively expand coal exports through its facilities.

As the main rail line that services Deltaport cuts right through the City of Langley, as a committee we were concerned about both the environmental and health impacts of coal transportation. We were also concerned about toxic population that is released when coal is burned in China, that makes its way back across the Pacific Ocean, and falls right back in Langley. We passed a motion requesting that Council “support for letters sent to Port Metro Vancouver from the Fraser Health & Coastal Health Authorities regarding the need for a Health Impact Assessment on the port expansion project due to the effects of transport and storage of coal in Metro Vancouver.”

I am pleased to report that City Council supported the motion and as a result will be sending a letter to Port Metro Vancouver supporting a Health Impact Assessment. The letter will also note concerns about:

-The impact beyond the confines of the Terminal 2 Project including transportation networks to and from the Port;
-The level of seismic preparedness in both new construction and existing road and rail transportation infrastructure; and
-The clarification of train rerouting in the event of a significant event or disruption in service.

I truly hope that the Port listens to the concerns of residents of Metro Vancouver, local governments, and health authorities, and studies the health risks from expanding coal exports out of our region.

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