A group of 130 doctors wants the state of Oregon to review the health risks of coal exports before approving any permits.
Thursday, the Physicians for Social Responsibility outlined numerous health risks that they link to coal dust, coal train diesel emissions and air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Asia.
Andy Harris is an ophthalmologist and a faculty member at Oregon Health and Science University’s Global Health Center. He says coal exports through the Northwest could increase the risk of asthma attacks, bronchitis, emphysema, stroke, heart attacks and cancer.
Harris explained, “There’s lots of good reasons to ask for a health impact assessment. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re talking with the governor and his staff about really looking at the health impacts of transporting coal through our communities before any permitting is done.”
There’s only one coal export project that has applied for an Oregon permit. The Morrow Pacific coal export project would ship coal from the Northern Rockies to Asia with stops in Boardman and St. Helens. The company wants a permit to to build a loading dock in Boardman.
A health assessment could delay that permit by a year.
(This story was originally reported for OPB News.)
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