Assessing the Public Health Impacts of Coal Transportation and Export: From Whatcom County, Washington to Seward, Alaska

April 25, 2012 @ 10:00am (AKDT)

In light of mounting scientific evidence, physicians are recognizing the public health impacts of coal development and export. In Whatcom County, Washington a group of 160 physicians is calling for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment for the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal project at Cherry Point, citing concerns over increased exposure to diesel particulate matter, coal dust, and noise pollution. In Seward, Alaska where Alaska coal is loaded onto ships bound for Asia, ongoing community concern about coal dust blowing from storage piles and the export facility, spurred a citizen air quality monitoring project. The project aims to answer questions about how much fugitive coal dust is getting into the air residents breathe and what substances it contains. Alaskans are particularly concerned about the public health impacts of increased coal exports in light of proposals to develop new coal mines at Wishbone Hill and Chuitna.

Seward Coal Loading Facility, Aurora Energy, Alaska:

Gateway Pacific Terminal project at Cherry Point, WA:

Proposed Wishbone Hill Coal Mine, Sutton, Alaska:

Health Resources:

Featured speakers

Frank James, MD, is a family physician, public Health Officer for San Juan County and for the Nooksack Indian Nation, and member of the University of Washington School of Public Health faculty. He is on the organizing committee of Whatcom Docs, a group of 190 physicians that are working to bring scientific evaluation of health impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal north of Bellingham. Dr. James received his PhD in socio-linguistics from Boston University and his MD from the University of Washington.

Denny Larson, is Executive Director of Global Community Monitor, an organization that trains and supports communities in the use of environmental monitoring tools to understand the impact of fossil fuel industry pollution on their health and the environment. Denny has twenty three years of experience as a community organizer and campaigner working with industrial communities fighting for justice. He has assisted communities across the United States and abroad to establish their own air monitoring networks. In March, 2012 Denny traveled to Seward, Alaska to help set up a citizen air quality monitoring project and train volunteers.

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