More than 100 people gathered in the Sechelt First Nations Hall on Nov. 1st for the Coal Hard Facts II forum.  The afternoon was dedicated to the ongoing fight to prevent thermal coal from being shipped from Port Metro Vancouver to Texada Island for storage.  The coal would then be re-loaded onto 1000’ long bulk freighters which will travel past Gulf Island locations on its way to the Pacific and on to Asia.

Moderator Jef Keighley from Alliance 4 Democracy provided the opening remarks and then introduced the first speaker, Lynn Chapman of the Salish Sea Committee.

Lynn spoke of the SCRD’s opposition to the proposal.  The SCRD presented a resolution at the UBCM (Union of BC Communities) meeting in September.  The resolution called for a comprehensive environmental and health impact assessment.  It also called for an appropriate agency to be named to monitor barge transfer and transport of coal over coastal waters to ensure environmental and health protection measures.  She also spoke of the blockade of Sabine Channel between Texada and Lasqueti by people and boats on Oct. 4th.  They were there to Occupy the channel in solidarity with people and communities standing up against climate change and the environmental dangers of shipping coal.

 Laura Benson of the Dogwood Initiative, Beyond Coal Campaign indicated that domestic coal markets in the U.S are drying up.  Washington and Oregon have curtailed any attempt to ship from their coastal areas.  As a result U.S. coal companies have secured Port Metro Vancouver’s approval to ship their product to Vancouver for reshipment to Asia.  That approval still needs air quality and waste water permits from the Metro Vancouver regional government.  Dogwood intends to make it an election issue.  Laura directed the audience to coal export stories.

Sechelt First Nations Chief, Calvin Craigan spoke of their involvement with the Salish Sea Coal Committee to stop the project.  He said that it will take concerned citizens up and down the coast to take on this battle because the provincial and federal governments have dropped the ball in terms of protecting the environment, the lands and all of its resources for the greater good of the people.

Fisheries Biologist Otto Langer spoke of the impacts of coal dust on crab gills.  He showed slides from tests that were done forty years ago showing how the water passages through the gills are plugged by the sharp edges of coal dust.  All gill breathing marine life is equally affected.  His presentation was hindered by time constraints but here is a presentation he made in 2013 on the subject.    Third Industrial Era in the Fraser Estuary

Anna Johnston from West Coast Environmental Law gave a distressing presentation.  The barges that will carry the coal to Texada will be as big as a football field.  They will have 8’ walls and the coal will be piled 20’ high.  There will be no monitoring equipment on board to evaluate the amount of dust as the barges travel in winds up to 40 kilometers/hour.   She gave details of Bills C-38 and C-45.  These two pieces of legislation eviscerated Canadian environmental regulations and the navigable waters protection act.  According to Anna no bodies of water on Vancouver Island are protected and on the mainland coast only the Fraser and Powel Lake are protected.  The changes include:

  • - cancellation of 3000+ environments reviews
  • - 90% of projects are no longer assessed
  • - narrowed “environmental effects” to be assessed
  • - limit public participation
  • - reduced protection of fish habitat
  • - NEB given jurisdiction over navigation impacts of pipe lines
  • - eliminated legal protection on 99% of Canadian lakes and rivers
  • - no notice or approval of projects that interfere with navigation
  • - removed accountability, transparency & public participation

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The final speaker was Donald Gordon, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change and he encouraged all to take part in the upcoming elections.

To view the entire forum : Coal Hard Facts II Forum by Eoghan Moriarty.

My name is Ted Taylor.  I cannot seem to stop attending these depressing meetings.  I’m 69 years and find it difficult to tolerate the incompetence of governments, provincial & federal.  Naomi Klein is right, our world is being destroyed by the greed of Capitalism.