Nothing Can Go Wrong at Coal Terminals?

Wreck at BC terminal dumps coal into Salish Sea.
This post is part of the research project: Northwest Coal & Oil Exports

Except, oops:

That’s a photo taken this morning of British Columbia’s Westshore Coal Terminal. A cargo vessel smashed through the center of the loading trestle—thus the big gap in the middle—putting it out of commission and dumping coal directly into the Strait of Georgia. The coal contamination is clearly visible as the dark streaks in the water.

The Vancouver Sun has the story. Here’s video footage of the scene.

It’s hardly encouraging that Port Metro Vancouver, the same agency that operates this facility, is trying to build new coal shipping capacity on the Fraser River.

Today was a rough day for coal shipments in the Northwest. Also this morning, a coal train broke down on the tracks in the middle of Mount Vernon shutting down local streets for nearly an hour.

Update 1/18/13: In a newspaper article, the coal terminal operators claim that the dark streaks are not coal dust: “In fact, what people were seeing was the artificial reef created by Port Metro Vancouver as part of environmental mitigation plans for marine life.” Uh-huh.

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  1. Scott Veirs says:

    Any new information on how in the world this catastrophic collision occurred? Could a similar navigational failure have caused a spill of the ship’s bunker fuel? If so, how much fuel was aboard?

  2. B. Sadie Bailey says:

    Just discovered this website and your great work on reporting the coal situation and much more. Thanks!
    Although this is an old article and you may not get this comment, just wanted you to know your links on the Westport terminal dock accident are broken. Would love to see them fixed or replaced, if possible. Thanks!

    • Eric de Place says:

      Thanks. All the links worked for me except the CKNW news story. I’ve replaced that with coverage from the Vancouver Sun.

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