Letters: Surrey port critic ignored port process facts

Dear Editor,

Your correspondent [Coal port okayed without adequate assessment, Sept. 4 Letters, Langley Advance] ignores important facts about Port Metro Vancouver’s decision to approve a permit for a coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks.

Reports and documents related to the approval are available on Port Metro Vancouver’s website for public scrutiny and have been since the process began more than two years ago. The decision was by no means a “closed door” one, as Port Metro Vancouver has been open and transparent with the public throughout the entire process.

With respect to what the author claims was a “delay,” Port Metro Vancouver does not place an arbitrary time line around any decision. The focus was on ensuring the proper scientific studies and assessments were conducted – including those for the environment and human health.

Further, to say that Port Metro Vancouver did not consider public input or involving public health authorities in the review is misleading.

Port Metro Vancouver’s project review included a required environmental impact assessment that was evaluated by an expert third party and subjected to a 30-day public comment period.

Additionally, in response to public concerns and feedback from health authorities and others, Port Metro Vancouver required a comprehensive, science-based human health risk assessment, which was completed following Health Canada guidelines and again evaluated by an expert third party. The third party and Port Metro Vancouver found no evidence of negative human health impacts beyond acceptable minimums.

In addition, during the course of the review, health authorities were invited to be involved, and meetings with them were held.

While the project required neither a federal environmental assessment by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency nor a provincial environmental assessment by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Agency, Port Metro Vancouver required a thorough environmental review in accordance with the requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act – an obligation Port Metro Vancouver takes very seriously.

Port Metro Vancouver’s mandate is to facilitate the flow of goods and resources through Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway, while at the same time ensuring the health and safety of residents throughout the region and the sustainability of port operations. The scientific findings of our project review process confirm this project can move forward in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

Peter Xotta, Port Metro Vancouver

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