In response to the announcement of the approval of permits for the shipment of U.S. thermal coal through Greater Vancouver, the Fraser River, and up the Salish Sea to Texada Island, citizens in the region protested by Occupying the Sabine Channel on Saturday.
According to organizers, more than 150 people, primarily from Lasqueti Island, population 350, came out in boats, and on the shoreline, to object to the Salish Sea being the staging ground for the export of dirty Thermal coal from Wyoming and Montana through B.C. to Asia.
Disallowed by U.S ports to date, protest organizers said this coal will come by train across the border to the Fraser/Surrey docks (up to two trains per day, each train up to one km long.) From there, the coal would be reloaded onto open topped barges and transported down the Fraser River, and up the very narrow Sabine Channel between Lasqueti and Texada islands.
The open-topped barges would then be off-loaded by conveyor at the Lafarge limestone quarry site on Texada Island, and then re-loaded onto 965-foot bulk cargo freighters which will travel past Parksville, Qualicum Beach and many Gulf Islands to the Pacific and its final destination in Asia.
“We are deeply concerned that the shipping and handling of so much thermal coal will release coal dust into the air and the marine environment”, said Andrew Fall, from Coal Dust Free Salish Sea. “Yet the province of B.C. did not require an Environmental Impact Assessment, and neither the province nor Port Metro Vancouver required a Health Impact Assessment, despite requests from the public and health authorities — this is unacceptable.”
“For such a small community, this is an amazing turn out!” said Sheila Harrington, a participant in the 36-boat flotilla that crossed the Sabine Channel on Saturday.
— NEWS Staff/Submitted by Sheila Harrington