For Immediate Release
April 13 2015
Fraser Surrey Docks Seeks to Discharge Coal-Contaminated Rainwater into Metro Vancouver Sanitary Sewer, Avoid More Expensive On Site Treatment
— proposal runs counter to regional goal of capturing and treating waste at source, reducing storm water burden on sanitary sewer system; thousands ask Metro to reject application
Vancouver — The public comment period on Fraser Surrey Docks’ (FSDs’) proposal to discharge waste water into the Metro Vancouver sanitary sewer system has closed. Metro Vancouver will now review more than 3000 submissions from the public and organizations before deciding if it will accept FSD’s waste discharge permit application, reject it, or return it for further revision and clarification. No timeline has been provided for the decision. The proposal cannot move ahead without a plan for waste water treatment.
FSD needs to find a way to treat and discharge coal contaminated rainwater that will be generated during delivery of US thermal coal by rail, its on-site handling, and its loading into open barges for towing down the Fraser. Last August, despite widespread opposition, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority approved construction of a new coal terminal at FSD for the export of 4 million tonnes/yr of US coal, with the possibility of growth to 8 million tonnes/yr in the future.
In its permit application FSD states that it has applied to Metro Vancouver for a waste discharge permit because the regional permitting process is the cheapest and quickest available. FSD also claims in its application that discharge to the sanitary option is preferred by stakeholders, despite the fact Metro Vancouver clearly identifies reducing waste at source and reducing storm water entry into the sanitary system as key liquid waste management goals. Directing rainwater into sanitary sewers is a regressive move at a time when the region is working to separate combined sanitary and storm sewers. Rainwater flows into the sanitary system dilute the sewage stream, making treatment less efficient and more costly. Rainwater flows into the sanitary sewer system also increase the likelihood of untreated sanitary overflows into the Fraser River during periods of high rainfall.
“If FSD truly wanted to be a good neighbour, it wouldn’t try to shift the burden of its waste water treatment off to the region,” said Paula Williams of Communities and Coal. “Instead, FSD should avoid the problem at the source — it should make sure that rainwater isn’t contaminated with coal dust when it handles dirty US coal, and it should work with the province to rigorously treat any waste it does produce right on site.”
In their submission, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) and Communities and Coal (C&C) recommend that Metro Vancouver reject FSD’s application for a waste discharge permit because it runs counter to regional goals. However, if Metro Vancouver declines to reject the application outright, VTACC and C&C recommend that Metro Vancouver return the application to FSD to clarify the volumes of waste water that will be produced by the project, as well as to resolve inconsistencies between recent public statements made by FSD CEO Jeff Scott and information included in the application on the type of coal that will be handled and the chemical dust control agents that will be applied to that coal.
“The Fraser River and the Strait of Georgia already suffer enough from oil spills and other contamination. They don’t need the added insult of run off from US thermal coal exports.” said Kevin Washbrook of Voters Taking Action on Climate Change. “FSD shouldn’t be searching out ways to dispose of contaminated rainwater — it should commit to avoiding contamination of that rainwater in the first place.”
Related Update: FSD continues with its legal challenge of Metro Vancouver’s authority to issue the company a ticket for the unauthorized discharge of soya bean dust during vessel loading at the Fraser River facility. That case will be heard in BC Provincial Court (Robson Square) starting June 2nd.
Paula Williams, Director Communities and Coal
Kevin Washbrook, Director Voters Taking Action on Climate Change
Laura Benson, Dogwood Initiative Beyond Coal Campaigner