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Tsawwassen coal dust samples ‘well below’ provincial guideline
Independent coal dust monitoring by the Corporation of Delta has found dustfall in Tsawwassen to be “well below” the provincial guideline set by BC Air Quality for residential areas.
However, the amount of particulate matter containing coal was found to be much higher at a sample location near the Boundary Bay airport next to a railway track used by coal trains.
Last summer – between June 28 to July 29, a dry period when dustfall potential is greatest – staff conducted a monitoring program in response to local residents’ concerns with potential coal dust being spilled by passing trains and from Westshore Terminals’ coal port. Delta set up four dustfall canisters in various Tsawwassen locations and a fifth north of the airport. The samples were then sent to Acuren Group Inc. for testing.
According to Delta staff’s report, Acuren found that all four dustfall monitoring locations in Tsawwassen – sites ranging from 4.5 to 5.5 km from Westshore Terminals’ Roberts Bank coal facility – had “relatively very low overall total dustfall.”
Acuren also found that the canister near the airport, 15 metres from the railway used by coal trains, had about 30 times more particulate matter than the Tsawwassen samples with about 65 per cent coal, exceeding the BC Air Quality guideline.
The report will be forwarded to the Fraser Health Authority for review.
On Monday, Delta council agreed to additional independent dustfall monitoring near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway in North Delta and the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor in East and South Delta during the spring of 2014.
Coun. Jeannie Kanakos said she was glad Delta will be undertaking independent monitoring in North Delta in response to residents’ concerns.
Chief Administrative Officer George Harvie commended WestShore Terminals for its cooperation.
Earlier this summer, the Delta coal port operator reported spending $8.5 million on a new coal dust mitigation system, including two mobile air monitoring units that can read particulate matter in the wind.
Staff also noted that Westshore Terminals has installed a camera at the 80th Street rail crossing to monitor trains emitting visible coal dust, and is following up with coal mines and railways when “dusting trains” are observed.
Council also asked staff to look into the possibility of having operators spray a white, non-toxic material onto coal trains, a practice Harvie and Mayor Lois Jackson observed on a trip to Norway. The spray would help suppress coal dust as well as be an easily visible way of monitoring whether coal on passing trains had been treated.