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Letter to the Editor: Coal critics spreading unwarranted fear

Feb 11, 2014

Vancouver Sun
February 11, 2014
By Alan Fryer

Re: U.S. coal shouldn’t come through B.C., Letters, Feb. 5

Contrary to what the writer claims, 33 million tonnes of U.S. thermal coal did not come through Delta or the Lower Mainland. It was a fraction of that at best. The Canadian terminals are full and predominantly handle Canadian steelmaking coal. B.C. ports also have very limited ability to expand, so it doesn’t matter how much U.S. thermal coal may be available for export, B.C. ports won’t be a solution much beyond current levels.

Also, as a trading nation party to international trade agreements Canada cannot selectively decide which legal commodities it will handle and which it won’t.

And to claim that Americans themselves don’t want coal shipped through their own communities and ports is simply not true. The proposal to build coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington are very much alive and winding their way through a complicated, and sometimes cumbersome, regulatory process. Those proposed terminals have the support of community and business leaders as well as labour and the Washington and American Farm Bureaus. They’re still years away from being built while B.C. ports have the capacity, limited as it is, right now. Handling coal is something we’ve been doing safely and responsibly for more than 40 years and men and women that work all along the coal chain, and the unions that represent them, agree.

Our rail carriers follow best practices which include spraying rail cars with a topper agent that forms a thin crust over the coal preventing coal dust from escaping in transit. In fact, a recent study by the Missoula City-Country Health Department in Montana — an area near the PRB coal mines — concluded coal dust is not prevalent and increased rail traffic related to coal poses no public health threat.

ALAN FRYER, Spokesperson, Coal Alliance

View the original letter in Vancouver Sun

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