White Rock Initiates Air Quality Impact of Passing Coal Trains

White Rock has at last started to measure the impact of Coal Trains on our air quality.
Here is a picture of the Mobile Air Monitoring Unit (MAMU) courtesy of the Save The West Beach Boat Launch Facebook page.

Mobile Air Monitoring Unit  located just East of the Boat launch

Mobile Air Monitoring Unit located just East of the Boat launch

Delta performed a similar study last year and found significant air pollution from the monitoring station located near the tracks. In addition, Washington State University professor Dr. Jaffe released a detailed assessment of health risks associated with living near coal trains. You can read more about that study here.

So while we wait for this latest study from the White Rock Waterfront, what do we already know about pollution from all these passing coal trains? Lots!

We already know how much coal dust gets put into our air and ocean using BNSF’s own data. This new study will just confirm it. Here is the data: 2100 pounds of coal dust flies off of the train and into our lungs and our sea and onto our homes every day.

Here’s the math:
Each car loses about 500 pounds on its 1100 mile journey from Wyoming to the coast (this is data that BNSF provides). Now let’s do the math. If we lose 500 pounds of coal (by weight) every 1100 miles, then that means that each loaded coal car releases about half a pound of coal dust per mile.

There are about 120 cars per train, and we expect at least 10 coal trains per day. That works out to 600 pounds of coal dust released per mile per day, which is 100 tons of coal dust released into the air per mile each year.

A trip around the Semiahmoo Peninsula is about 11 miles, so over 1000 tons of coal dust will land on the peninsula each year from the coal trains.

For White Rock alone with about 4 miles of track, we can expect about 2100 pounds of Coal Dust deposited on Our City by the Sea every day. That works our to be about 400 tons per year coating our streets and homes and lungs. That’s not good for tourism, its not good for business, and it certainly is not good for our health.

Washington State Health Impact Study Confirms Coal Trains Increase Health Risk of Residents

A new study out of Washington State University suggests the Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal expansion project would have a major impact on the health of residents living near the facility.

Trouble in the air?: Coal trains could be rumbling through B.C. en route to Fraser Surrey Docks if a new proposal comes to pass – and a new study says that would pose health hazards.

Trouble in the air?: Coal trains could be rumbling through B.C. en route to Fraser Surrey Docks if a new proposal comes to pass – and a new study says that would pose health hazards.

And local academics say the study underlines the fact that approval of the Fraser Surrey Docks project will inevitably lead to increased levels of known carcinogens in the air – particularly in the neighbourhoods adjacent to the terminal.

“The increases in particles that this study attributed to even current levels of rail traffic were much higher than I would have expected and suggest that the proposed increases in rail traffic will have large impacts on concentrations in areas around rail corridors,” said Professor Michael Brauer of the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

“We have very little data on residential exposure to emissions from rail in general and to coal trains specifically, so this study is important.”

The study conducted by Professor Dan Jaffe and published in Atmospheric Pollution Research found that air pollution levels in a Seattle neighbourhood spiked when loaded coal trains passed. The study showed that levels of small particles of airborne pollution from train engines’ diesel exhaust and “larger particles believed to be coal dust” hit levels normally found in heavy industrial areas.

An increase of coal trains along the route “may put these residents over the new U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” Jaffe wrote in his study.

Some of the particles measured during the study were 30 times more slender than a human hair and could easily penetrate deep inside a person’s respiratory system, causing lung and heart disease.

You can read the whole article here. If you would like to read the research paper, it is available here: Jaffe 2014 Paper on effect of Coal Trains on Health Risks


TAKE ACTION… Contact Health Minister Terry Lake AND ask him to use his authority and authorize the Health Impact Assessment now

The Power is in the People

Change comes from the bottom, and that is not a bad thing. Collectively, we have the ability to influence decision makers and to demand that our representatives look out for the interests of the public. It is about balancing business with people. GO TO:



Pacific Northwest’s Salish Sea Eyed as Fossil Fuel Gateway- Proposed projects would move oil, gas, and coal through the ecologically sensitive marine area.

The issue is particularly important for residents of the coastal towns that ring the Salish Sea, a group of waterways shared by Washington State and British Columbia that includes the Puget Sound. A region that historically has been “at the vanguard of environmental progress globally is right at the cusp of becoming one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel export hubs,” said Eric de Place, policy director for the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental think tank.



White Rock wants dangerous-goods rail route to be moved to Abbotsford

“The City of White Rock would like to see all dangerous goods re-routed to the Sumas Crossing, or some other route available to the BNSFR,” the letter states.

Informed Wednesday of White Rock’s letter, an Abbotsford councillor said re-routing dangerous goods through his community would be “shifting a problem to a different jurisdiction.”