Monday, January 13, 2014

Train Derails Spilling Coal into a BC Waterway

The seemingly endless litany of fossil fuel carrying train derailments has yet another statistic to add to a long and ever expanding list. This time a coal train derailed in Burnaby, B.C. on Saturday January 11. This derailment adds fuel to the public debate about the safety of transporting fossil fuels by rail.

Seven cars in a 152-car long Canadian Pacific Railway train traveling from the Kootenays to Vancouver went off the tracks. Coal spilled into a nearby creek requiring the involvement of environmental agencies. Early indications are that extreme weather in the form of a heavy rainstorm washed away tracks.

This incident calls into question the proposed expansion of the Fraser Surrey Docks which would significantly increase the volume of coal transported by rail. The proposed project would ferry coal destined for overseas markets.

Coal is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the environmental group Voters Taking Action on Climate Change was among those who have expressed concern.

The proposed transport of coal would travel through the heavily populated areas prompting the communities of South Surrey, White Rock, Surrey, New Westminster and Burnaby and Fraser Health to call for a comprehensive health impact assessment to determine the impacts of the project.

Despite protests from a large number of environmentally concerned citizens, the Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver were allowed to double their coal export capacity in 2013.

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