By John Stark
The Friday, Dec. 7 accident at the Westshore Terminal coal pier in British Columbia got just a short mention in Saturday’s newspaper and the Friday online edition. I’m sure many of you wanted more.
Here’s an update from The Maritime Executive, noting that one of the berths at the terminal, just north of the U.S. border, remains out of commission as of Monday, Dec. 10. The report says there is still no explanation for the accident, in which a coal ship apparently crashed through the conveyer belt that carries coal to the loading equipment and spilled about 30 tons of coal into the sea.
Here’s a report and aerial photo from Metro Vancouver. This report indicates that the collision and spill have stirred up some serious misgivings about plans to expand the terminal.
Here’s a lengthy report about opposition to coal exports in British Columbia. It appeared in the Maple Ridge News before last week’s mishap.
Expansion of the Canadian coal terminal could be significant to Bellingham and Whatcom County, since U.S. coal exported through Westshore would likely use BNSF Railway Co. tracks through western Washington and Bellingham to get there — as some coal trains are already doing. This report also details plans to expand coal export capacity in Canada, and it appears as though those plans were not slated for extensive regulatory review at the time this report was written.
Some proponents of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project proposed for Whatcom County’s Cherry Point have argued that if a local terminal is not built, the coal will still be shipped through Bellingham en route to potentially-expandable Canadian terminals and Chinese steam plants.
But opponents contend that the potential increase in coal train traffic through Bellingham to Canada is nowhere near the 18 trains per day (loaded and empty) that would be generated by Gateway Pacific at full capacity.
Here’s a link to the Communitywise Bellingham report on that issue.
In any event, Westshore also handles Canadian coal that gets to the terminal via Canadian rail lines. Here’s one example–the coal sources in this deal appear to be Canadian. (report from NASDAQ)