Wrong coal clouds issue
Re: Coal exposure not a health issue, Jan. 7 letters.
The letter from Mark Gordienko (president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada) was cordial and well thought out and should advance dialogue on the coal-dust issue in the news. It is only right that members of the unions handling coal should speak up about what health issues they’ve noticed, if any.
However, Gordienko’s letter fails to make the necessary distinction between B.C. metallurgical coal and the American thermal coal that the expansion of the Fraser Surrey Docks facility will provide for.
The latter coal is more fragile and inclined to break up and release dust.
It is disingenuous to suggest American thermal coal has the same economic importance. The statistics needed to evaluate the coal-port expansion project are not the ones furnished by Gordienko, but the ones that indicate money and jobs to be generated by the increased transport of American thermal coal only.
Finally, I don’t believe Gordienko’s letter is the final word on the potential health hazards of coal dust. The chief medical officers with Fraser Health and Vancouver Health are not satisfied by the limited environmental assessment praised by Gordienko.
Note the concern about children breathing fugitive thermal coal dust along the transportation corridor is not addressed by the experience of adult workers who predominantly handle a different type of coal.
David Anson, White Rock
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In response to Mark Gordienko’s letter, it all sounds wonderful with the jobs and revenue produced by the coal industry in B.C., but this is entirely separate from the coal dock planned at Fraser Surrey Docks.
Opponents of the dock have no problem with the B.C. metallurgical coal, mined, transported and exported for steel manufacturing.
What we have a major problem with is the fact that the thermal coal planned for FSD will have been mined in Wyoming by U.S. miners, transported on U.S. trains manned by U.S. crews all the way to FSD.
In any case, B.C. is being used as a soft touch due to the public outcry in Washington and Oregon where, of six docks planned, three have been cancelled due to their much more stringent environmental processes.
David Gibbs, Surrey