Fraser Surrey Docks operation on the Fraser River in Surrey.

Coal port firm drops court battle against Metro Vancouver

Fraser Surrey Docks challenge of regional district's jurisdiction over air pollution abandoned for now but could resurface

The company aiming to build a new coal export terminal in Surrey has at least for now abandoned its court challenge of Metro Vancouver’s power to regulate industrial air pollution.

Fraser Surrey Docks had challenged Metro’s jurisdiction over air quality after it contested a $1,000 ticket Metro issued for the release of soybean dust while loading ships two years ago.

The legal dispute had raised fears that Metro might lose its authority to control industrial emissions from any federal lands, not just at Fraser Surrey Docks, which argued it answers only to Port Metro Vancouver.

But the case ended quietly June 11 when Fraser Surrey Docks paid the fine and dropped the challenge.

“We paid the ticket just to focus our priorities and resources on other areas,” Fraser Surrey Docks CEO Jeff Scott said. “We still have some clarity concerns around the jurisdiction. We still believe the port is our regulator.”

The terminal operator has warned Metro that it could resume that fight in the courts if Metro were to ticket or prosecute it for any future air quality violation.

Scott said Fraser Surrey Docks will voluntarily apply for an air quality permit from Metro covering its operations – it has not sought one until now despite Metro’s insistence one is required.

Ray Robb, Metro’s manager of environmental regulatory and enforcement services, said he wanted to see the region win in court.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t go all the way with this one,” he said.

Robb said he believes Metro had a strong case, which has now been bolstered for the future because the company admitted its guilt in court and paid the ticket.

Nor is Metro shrinking away from further enforcement even though a new ticket could reignite the court challenge.

“We’ve advised them that continued discharge without a permit is contrary to our bylaw and they face the risk of potential further action,” Robb said.

“We remain of the opinion that our bylaws do apply. Their purpose is to protect human health. We will continue to pursue compliance with our bylaws.”

As for how quickly the controversial Surrey coal terminal – opposed by various groups and municipalities – could be up and running, Scott estimates January 2017 at the earliest, if all goes smoothly.

That would assume a construction start by this winter.

Before that can happen, Fraser Surrey Docks needs to get Port Metro Vancouver approval for its revised plan to load ocean-going ships directly in Surrey, rather than first barging coal to a transfer site at Texada Island as set out in the permit issued a year ago.

Environmental groups have said they don’t believe the $15-million coal export terminal will be economically viable after the recent plunge in coal prices, which has prompted many mines to curtail operations.

Scott acknowledged coal and other commodity markets are suffering right now, but added demand is expected to improve by the time the new terminal opens.

“We do believe there is a market in the future and that within the next couple of years we would see a resurgence and upward swing.”

The proposed coal terminal also faces court challenges from Ecojustice on behalf of Communities and Coal, as well as the Musqueam First Nation.

If built, the terminal would mean one additional coal train per day rolling through White Rock, South Surrey and Delta, delivering four million tonnes of U.S. coal per year, although critics fear it would expand further.

Just Posted

Ten of 11 people taken into custody after shooting in Surrey have been released

Police say four guns, two Tasers, drugs and other weapons were seized after home shot at in Whalley

Madchild headlines ‘Hip Hop For Hunger’ at Surrey’s Strumms ‘n Drums club

Venue at Turf Hotel has hosted a variety of music events in recent months

15-year-old charged following threat to South Surrey high school

Police announce pair of teens arrested for Nov. 14 incident at Elgin Park Secondary

Delta Police Department joins integrated forensics team

Forensics-trained DPD officers will investigate scenes in other cities as well as in Delta

Injured eagle rescued in White Rock: ‘It was the size of a turkey!’

Bald eagle may have gotten into a fight over territory

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

Hope’s illicit drug death rate rivals Vancouver

Small Fraser Valley district listed among top five per capita in B.C.

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

TransLink CEO ‘hopeful’ SkyTrain shutdown can be averted with last-minute deal

No extra buses will be on the roads if strike goes ahead

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Don’t expect extra bus service during impending SkyTrain strike, CMBC says

Full SkyTrain shutdown is scheduled to start Tuesday morning

Most Read

l -->