Letter writers react to anticipated impact of Port Metro Vancouver’s approval of a coal-transfer facility in Surrey.

LETTERS: More coal adds to our problems


Re: All coal concerns addressed: port, Aug. 26.


Re: All coal concerns addressed: port, Aug. 26.

I was dismayed – but not surprised – to read about Port Metro Vancouver’s decision to approve expansion of the Surrey Fraser dock last week.

I remain hopeful that Fraser Health and/or the Lower Mainland municipal governments representing the vast majority of affected residents who don’t want coal-export expansion will ensure that this never happens.

I would like to dispel one myth, however.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read comments that claim there are 20 or more trains a day running through Crescent Beach and White Rock. I’m retired, I’m here all the time and I live about 50 yards from the rail line.

Up until about the end of June, there were an average of 14 to 15 trains a day, and four of those were Amtrak passenger trains. For some reason, since then the number of trains has dropped to about 10 per day. I don’t know what advantage those who oppose an increase in rail traffic think they gain by exaggerating the numbers.

Having said that, I do want to express anger over the unnecessarily long and usually redundant engine whistle signals that we have to put up with in Crescent Beach.

Transport Canada regulations state that the signal shall be two long sounds followed by one short and then a final long sound. The regulations go on to say the signals “should be distinct, with intensity and duration proportionate to the distance the signal is to be conveyed. Unnecessary use of the whistle is prohibited.”

And that: “Trains exceeding 44 mp/h must sound whistle signal 1/4 mile before the crossing, to be prolonged or repeated, until the crossing is fully occupied,” and a “whistle post will be located 1/4 mile before each public crossing where required.”

Such a whistle post exists for southbound trains opposite our house on the rail line.

Unfortunately for those of us who live close to the tracks, the duration of the long blasts is not defined by regulation. However, most operators are reasonable and the long blasts last about two seconds. But there is at least one BNSF train operator who comes through Crescent Beach and leans on the horn for at least five seconds for each long blast. This often happens late at night, waking everyone within half a mile of the track.

Can you imagine how many vehicles might be approaching the McBride Street crossing – which, incidentally, is an automatically controlled crossing – at 3 a.m.? If you can’t, the answer is none. So why do we have to put up with horn blasts late at night at all, let alone when three of them can last as long as six seconds each?

Furthermore, noise is defined by the City of Surrey’s Noise Control Bylaw as any sound that tends to disturb the rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of any person or persons in the neighbourhood or vicinity.

I think this fits.

Simon Clews, Surrey

Disappointing decision

The BC Nurses’ Union is very disappointed to hear of the decision by Port Metro Vancouver to approve the controversial $15-million coal-loading facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.

BCNU, which represents over 40,000 licensed and regulated nurses across the province, has expressed serious concerns about the alarming public health risks associated with coal dust, and has supported requests by chief medical health officers in the Lower Mainland for a more in-depth assessment of the coal transfer facility along the Fraser River. We have also made clear our concerns regarding the impact a project of this size would have on our fragile, coastal environment.

We are proud to stand with a number of health professionals, including doctors and many others who are strongly opposed to the recent decision.

The significant risks associated with the transportation of raw resources through densely populated regions are well documented.

BCNU believes the health and well-being of thousands of citizens who are directly or indirectly impacted have not been fully considered in this decision.

Christine Sorensen, BC Nurses’ Union vice-president

• • •

Unbelievable – yes. Unexpected – no.

How can the decision by Port Metro Vancouver be unexpected when they obediently obey the dictates of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and company in Ottawa?

Unbelievable, in that we will now have up to eight million tonnes of U.S. thermal coal annually passing through White Rock, Crescent Beach, Delta and Surrey. It will then be loaded uncovered on barges moving through the Gulf Islands to Texada, where it will be piled exposed to the elements awaiting shipment to China.

The contempt that PMV has shown to the public who will be affected is beyond belief. Rather ironic that this travesty is approved at the same time another port in Oregon was denied a permit to ship coal.

David Gibbs, Surrey



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