Coal opponent has faith in environmental process

Coal Free Alberni's Stacey Gaiga says the EAO rejecting Raven Coal application is a sign the environment is taken seriously.

The provincial Environment Assessment Office (EAO) has decided not to accept a Raven coal mine application for detailed review.

In a May 16 letter to John Tapics, CEO of Compliance Coal Corp., EAO project assessment manager Tracy James refers to “the major information requirements” the EAO states Compliance has not adequately addressed in its submission.

Should Compliance wish to resubmit its application, James asks Tapics to first incorporate information that it has requested.

If a revised application is received, the EAO would screen that submission, James added, saying Compliance would be informed in writing whether at that point the application had been accepted for formal environmental review.

Company vice-president, operations Stephen Ellis said in a press release on Monday that Compliance will review the EAO’s comments, provide additional information and then resubmit their application for review again.

The completed application, Ellis said, contains approximately 12,000 pages and fills more than 10 binders.

Stacey Gaiga of Coal Free Alberni takes this step as a small victory.

“This comprehensive process appears to be working,” she said.

“If this is an indication of what’s to come then it’s good for us.”

Gaiga said she was surprised at the amount of errors or omissions from Compliance Coal’s application that the EAO listed. “I think what everybody’s getting excited about is just the amount of errors and information they left out,” she added.

The Raven Underground Coal Project near the Comox Valley communities of Buckley Bay and Fanny Bay is expected to produce about 30 million tonnes of coal and rock over a 16-year period.

The product would be trucked to a facility in Port Alberni. The total mine site surface footprint is expected to be about 200 hectares along with two hectares at the port facility.

There has been much opposition to the mine in Port Alberni and the Comox Valley, with concern expressed about negative effects on Baynes Sound shellfish aquaculture. Half of B.C.’s shellfish aquaculture industry is in Baynes Sound.

—With files from Susan Quinn, Alberni Valley News

editor@albernivalleynews.com