Permit cancellation means thermal coal won't be railed through Delta to new facility

The Port of Vancouver has cancelled the Fraser Surrey Docks permit to export U.S. thermal coal.

The port, on the south side of the Fraser River near North Delta, Surrey and New Westminster, wanted to transfer coal brought in by rail from Wyoming.

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The contentious $15 million project had been approved by the port authority in 2014, withstanding a challenge by opponents by being given the green light by the Federal Court of Canada last year. The project would have seen up to four million metric tonnes of American thermal coal per year sent by rail to the facility, with potential to expand that to eight million tonnes per year. The coal would have been shipped to Texada Island and loaded onto barges for export.

Fraser Surrey Docks in 2014 said that as part of the review process, it contracted third-party experts to conduct environmental impact, air quality and human health risk assessments to identify potential project impacts, help enhance the project design and develop comprehensive mitigation strategies throughout the logistics chain, from rail to terminal to barge.

A significant amount of work and a number of comprehensive studies had gone into ensuring the project was safe and that concerns raised were addressed, said president and CEO Jeff Scott at the time.

But now, the port authority announced the permit has been cancelled, stating one of the conditions of approval was that the project be substantially started by late 2018. Nothing has happened on that front.

The group Communities and Coal applauded the move, noting on Twitter, “Today we received word that the Port cancelled the coal permit. This is a big deal and a victory for everyone who worked so hard over the last 6 years!” 

Other opponents including Eco Justice and Dogwood also celebrated the latest development.

The proposal had raised concerns throughout the region by many including the chief medical health officers for both Lower Mainland health authorities, who conveyed health concerns.

Westshore Terminals is an existing terminal in South Delta handling metallurgical and thermal coal.

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