Re: Port committee marks decade of community engagement, Jan. 19
I have been a member of the Port Community Liaison Committee (PCLC) and its predecessor since its inception. Generally the articles submitted to the Optimist are well informed. Regrettably this is not the case this time.
Concerning the Roberts Bank Container Terminal 2 proposal the article states: “It appears that the panel is being thorough in seeking out information regarding the environmental impacts of the proposed Terminal 2.”
There is no factual basis to make this statement. The PCLC has not discussed T2 in detail at any time in 2017. Neither has the PCLC reviewed the work of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s panel review of T2. So how can it be said that the panel is being thorough. That may be the view of individuals on the committee but it is not mine.
Yes, the panel is starting to ask some of the right questions about environmental impacts, but thus far the panel appears to have chosen to restrict its questions primarily to the port, regulatory agencies and First Nations. There is a critical need for credible independent science-based reviews of the key area of concern: the precautionary principle and the potential T2 impact on biofilm. Why? Because the unique biofilm that exists on Roberts Bank is a crucial food source for millions of shorebirds, including the western sandpipers as well as other wildlife. Without this the entire western sandpiper population will be at risk.
This project cannot proceed unless and until there has been a thorough independent science-based review by experts familiar with and working in the field, because the potential for damage, if T2 were to proceed, will be irreversible and its impacts cannot be mitigated.
Regrettably, neither the panel nor Environment Canada have called in independent experts, despite the fact there are people able to lend their expertise. Instead, the panel is relying on input from the port and its own consultants which some suggest are flawed in a number of key aspects. Equally, government agencies, especially Environment Canada, are relying on meagre internal resources because these agencies, for the most part, lack the funding to draw on independent experts.
This needs to change. The panel needs to contact and engage directly with internationally recognized experts in the field of biofilm, such that they can be asked to provide an independent science-based analysis for the impacts on biofilm from potential changes, including salinity, water temperature and tidal flows, that will result from T2.
The public deserves to be fully informed about the panel review and the key areas of environmental concern.