Port in a storm

WITH aggressive expansion coming to the amount of coal and grain Port Metro Vancouver exports, it's time to take a closer look at the price our lungs are going to pay.

Vancouver Coastal Health and the Fraser Health Authority, along with more than two dozen public health organizations, have raised red flags and asked for more health-impact assessments of this increased export activity. But the port enjoys federal jurisdiction, meaning provincial and local processes and standards can be skipped over at whim.

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All too often the port appears to operate in a bubble, pursuing its own goals in isolation from the community around it. But, sadly, the bubble they seal themselves in doesn't contain the particulate drifting off the heaps of coal and grain destined for the burners and appetites of Asia.

The port says its own testing is rigorous, but that's not enough. As we've seen many times in the past, Port Metro Vancouver has long preferred "beg forgiveness" over "ask permission" when it comes to how its activities will affect the communities around them.

Smoking rates are at their lowest in decades as people are finally clued in to the dangers of the carcinogenic particulates involved and have made the decision to avoid them. But no one can decide what's in the air they breathe in their own communities.

If Port Metro Vancouver isn't going to be proactive in dealing with ongoing health-impact assessments, then it's time to give our health authorities the tools they need so we can all breathe a little easier.

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