Aug 21 Port Metro Vancouver, Canada's largest
port, said on Thursday it has approved a new facility to
transfer coal from trains onto barges at Fraser Surrey Docks, a
decision that followed lengthy public scrutiny over the
project's environmental and health impact.
After a permitting process lasting more than two years and
including environmental impact, air quality and other human
health assessments, the port said it found no "unacceptable
risks" in allowing the $15 million project to move forward.
The Fraser Surrey Docks terminal would handle up to 4
million metric tonnes of coal from the Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railway Co (BNSF) each year, loading it
on barges bound for Texada Island, north of Vancouver, where it
would be transferred to large vessels for export.
Documents published last year by the port, which is a
corporation established by the Canadian government, said the
expansion would bring in one more train and two barges each day.
Cheap natural gas and tighter regulation has hurt coal
prices in the United States in recent years, prompting more
producers to look overseas for customers.
Port Metro Vancouver, which handles some $172 billion in
goods traded between more than 160 countries, announced new
requirements for the project last fall including prohibiting
on-site coal storage and making barges take extra measures to
prevent coal dust from escaping while in transit.
The moves were in response to public concerns about air
quality and health issues due to coal dust exposure.
The new facility is expected to begin operating in the fall
of 2015, said Jeff Scott, the chief executive of Fraser Surrey
Docks, which is the largest multipurpose marine terminal on
North America's West Coast.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho and Allison Martell; Editing by Paul