On May 10, 2011, the CEAA/EAO (federal and provincial environmental authorities) announced that the 40 day public comment period on the draft AIR/EIS Guidelines document for the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine Project would commence on May 18, 2011 and end on June 27, 2011. Over the past 17 months, CoalWatch has been identifying and researching issues regarding the proposed Raven Coal Mine Project – located near the community of Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island – and taking part in public town hall meetings across Vancouver Island and Vancouver. The overwhelming consensus in all of these town hall meetings was widespread public concern over this proposed coal mine project, and there was ample evidence of potential adverse environmental impacts from the proposed project.
The proposed Raven Coal Mine Project would include a mine site situated just 5 km from the shoreline of Baynes Sound, home of a world famous shellfish industry. The coal mined from the 3,100 hectare underground mine, would be processed at the mine site, and then trucked by double trailer B-train trucks 80 km to Port Alberni. The proponent, Compliance Energy Corporation(CEC), plans to build a coal storage and loading facility in Port Alberni, and ship the coal product by Panamax freight ships to buyers in the Pacific Rim and Asia.
The proposed Raven Project is currently going through a “harmonized” comprehensive environmental assessment review. CoalWatch, along with numerous local governments and thousands of people across British Columbia, have asked for a more rigorous environmental assessment, a so called independent expert review panel with public hearings. This independent review panel would be at arm’s length from the government, be more transparent, and more likely to result in findings of environmental impacts.
The potential negative environmental impacts from this coal mine project are many. They include impacts to the aquifers in the areas impacted by the coal mine, contaminants flowing into Baynes Sound from the mine operation, transportation issues with trucking the coal to Port Alberni, and the numerous coal port issues for the residents in Port Alberni. Unfortunately, the requests for a referral of the environmental assessment to an independent review panel with public hearings, have been turned down by both federal and provincial Ministers of Environment.
Now that we’re into the next public comment phase of the environmental assessment of the Raven Coal Mine Project, what can you do to help? Inform yourself on the project. The three new documents just released are on the CoalWatch website: www.coalwatch.ca
These documents, the draft AIR document, the Working Group Tracking Table, and the Updated Project Description contain over 550 pages of new material, which would give anyone a headache trying to understand. CoalWatch will be identifying issues with the new draft AIR document and have suggestions and guides for commenting on our website in the next few days.
By far one of the most important ways in which you can help, is to attend the public meetings scheduled in Courtenay, Port Alberni and Union Bay. The format of the public meetings include a display information portion from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and then a break until 6 p.m. The most important portion of the meeting begins at 6 p.m. with presentations by the CEAA/EAO and the proponent (CEC) until 7 p.m. when the formal public question and answer session begins. So, bring your signs and questions or comments, and tell the CEAA/EAO and Compliance Energy what you think of this coal mine project.
Rafe Mair once said, “The current environmental assessment process provides for public consultation, but lacks the most important thing, a PROVISION FOR PUBLIC CONSENT.” He’s absolutely right. Vancouver Island is now faced with a proposal for a coal mine which will be situated only 5 km from a world famous shellfish industry. Compliance Energy has already identified other coal deposits in their 29,000 hectare coal tenure in the Comox Valley for future development. If the Raven Project is given approval, are the residents of the Comox Valley faced with more coal mine developments turning the Comox Valley into a Mini-Appalachia? If it can happen here in Fanny Bay, it can happen anywhere in British Columbia.
Now’s the time to SAY NO TO RAVEN COAL.
John Snyder is the president of Comox Valley CoalWatch – he lives in beautiful Fanny Bay, BC
PUBLIC MEETING SCHEDULE:
Monday May 30, 2011 – Florence Filberg Centre, 411 Anderton Ave, Courtenay, BC
Thursday, June 2, 2011 – Port Alberni Athletic Hall, 3727 Roger St. , Port Alberni, BC
Friday, June 3, 2011 – Union Bay Community Club, 5401 South Island Highway, Union Bay, BC