Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) has approved the proposed direct coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks. The decision comes following a two-year project review process and including extra measures taken to assess any potential environmental and human health risks.
In granting the permit, Port Metro Vancouver requires Fraser Surrey Docks to meet a strict set of conditions to ensure environmental and safety standards.
"The decision to permit the proposed coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks was not one we took lightly," said Peter Xotta, vice president, planning and operations at Port Metro Vancouver. "Through our comprehensive project review process, stakeholder consultation, as well as third-party validated environmental and health studies, it was determined there are no unacceptable risks and the project could be permitted."
According to PMV, the permitting process was unusually extensive in this case. Though the project did not require either a full federal or provincial environmental assessment to be conducted by either the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency or the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, PMV decided to require an Environmental Impact Assessment and additional human health assessments due to public interest in the project.
Speaking to the thoroughness of the environmental studies and mitigation efforts, Jim Crandles, director of planning and development stated, "We are confident that the project does not pose a risk to the environment or human health and that the public is protected."
The $15 million facility will handle up to four million metric tonnes of coal per year which will be loaded onto barges at the facility and transferred to ocean-going carriers at Texada Island. The coal will arrive at Fraser Surrey Docks via rail and it is expected the project will result in one additional train per day along the BNSF railroad. Coal is the most heavily traded commodity in the port and the quantity to be shipped from Fraser Surrey Docks represents about 10 per cent of total coal shipments. Coal terminal operators PMV's jurisdiction have been shipping coal safely for over 40 years.