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

April 25, 2012
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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CHE-Alaska hosted this call.

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.

Featured Speakers

Frank James, MD, is a family physician, public health officer for San Juan County and Nooksack Tribe, and member of the University of Washington School of Public Health faculty. Dr. James received his doctorate in socio-linguistics from Boston University and his MD from the University of Washington. He is a member of Whatcom Docs, a group of 160 physicians concerned about the public health impacts of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point in Washington.

Denny Larson, executive director, Global Community Monitor. Denny has twenty three years of experience as a community organizer and campaigner working with industrial communities fighting for justice. Denny has assisted communities across the United States and in abroad to establish their own air monitoring network. Denny has published a series of community organizing handbooks and co-authored a variety of environmental legislation and regulation pertaining to air pollution, accident prevention and environmental monitoring policies a the local, regional, state, national and international levels. He has negotiated two dozen binding agreements with major polluters in conjunction with impacted communities to reduce tons of unnecessary pollution and create direct community oversight. Denny traveled to Seward, Alaska, to help set up a community air quality monitoring project in March 2012.