Letters to the Editor

Clearing up coal issues

Editor:

Re: Coal exposure not a health issue, Jan. 7 letters.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada president Mark Gordienko misrepresents the views of Paula Williams and the Communities and Coal Committee.

We are specifically opposed to the shipment of U.S. thermal coal to Metro Vancouver from Wyoming by train and transferred to barges at Surrey Fraser Docks. It would then be shipped to Texada Island to be transferred by ocean-going vessels for export to Asia to be used for generating power.

Both Washington and Oregon states have refused to allow passage on the grounds of health and environmental concerns.

It is not just our committee who is opposed to this U.S. thermal coal, but every municipal Lower Mainland council has passed motions opposing the transfer of U.S. thermal coal through their communities on the grounds that it provides only 25 jobs and is a health and environmental concern as well.

They are also concerned about the limitations of the environmental-impact assessment performed by SNC Lavalin and they unanimously demand an independent third-party comprehensive health-impact assessment and full public hearings.

We are not opposed, as Gordienko suggests, to the extraction and export of B.C. metallurgical coal that is used for steelmaking and which provides many Canadian jobs.

Margie Ostroff, Surrey

• • •

Every evening we watch a commercial of little children from the Congo asking for money so they can have food and an education.

People in many places in this world have no resources. They cannot help themselves because they have nothing and never will.

Imagine if in 100 years, our descendants had to do the same commercial and it was shown in China. We have resources, but there is a reason we cannot get at them.

We need to get coal to a terminal, and there are those who are saying coal dust is affecting their health.

I say, bah humbug. You are outside where the fresh air is, and a little coal dust is never going to harm you.

When I was 14, I started work at the pits in County Durham. My job was picking stones from the coal off a conveyer belt in a building 150 feet long, 30 feet wide and 12 feet high.

During our eight-hour shift, none of us kids could see the far end of the building because of the dust. Each day, when we left, we were covered completely with coal dust, trying to clear our systems by continually spitting out that dust.

For seven years I suffered this. Not quite the same as having a train passing by once in a while, is it?

I know many will question why so many coal miners have lung disease. Those men spent most of their lives down the pit working under closed conditions – not seven years.

My health today? I am 85, and for my age I am considered very healthy. I walk and exercise every day.

I ask those who are against coal, oil, liquid gas, etc., to think of the coming generations, or even of tomorrow. Our doctors and hospitals are getting shortchanged, our schools are not serviced as they should be. The transit system is in a mess.

Where do you think we can find the money? The taxpayer.

However, if we had a clear path to reach our resources, it would be much easier for our descendants.

In the next 15 years, the health industry needs billions to handle the dementia epidemic. Are you still going to object to a little coal dust?

R. Morton, Surrey

• • •

Re: Douse coal concerns, Jan. 21 letters.

Yet again this paper has printed a poorly informed letter about coal trains through our community.

When will it become clear to everyone?

I refer to the letter suggesting covering or spraying the coal cars.

Citizens are greatly concerned about much more than dust.

The dangerous increase in toxic diesel particulates spewed from the engines on each coal train is a huge worry. Each train is heavy and there will be many more engines passing through. Diesel particulate matter and coal dust are both important.

Importantly, this is U.S. coal – mined by Americans, in Wyoming, sold to Asia. There are no mining jobs created in Canada by this process. It’s not our coal, and no benefits come from BNSF to us for setting up this conveyor belt from the U.S. to China.

People seem to have trouble understanding that.

The U.S. gets the mining jobs and the money, China gets the dirty thermal coal to burn. What does any of that have to do with us?

If this goes forward, all we get is the air and water pollution, the safety hazards, the noise, vibration, traffic congestion and the hassle of these 140-car trains passing though in each direction all day and night.

Let America ship the stuff to China themselves. Why do Canadians have to bear the brunt of the side-effects?

Wendy Wulff, Surrey

 

 

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