BELLINGHAM — A group of 160 Whatcom County doctors and health professionals is calling for a comprehensive review of the health impacts from the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal and bulk cargo pier proposed at Cherry Point.
The group, calling itself Whatcom Docs, contends that both coal dust and diesel emissions from trains and ships have been shown to have harmful impacts on human health. They want a specific study on how Gateway Pacific would affect health in Whatcom County and elsewhere along the railroad lines leading to the pier.
Besides the coal dust and diesel exhaust, the doctors also call for study of potential local health impacts from added railroad noise and disruption of emergency traffic at rail crossings.
Gateway Pacific, proposed by SSA Marine of Seattle, could require as many as nine coal trains per day if built to full capacity. Those trains would travel through Bellingham full and go back the same way after unloading, en route to mines in the Rocky Mountains.
"The particulate matter in diesel pollution is very much like cigarette smoke," said internist Pam Laughlin, a member of Whatcom Docs. "We wouldn't want to expose our children to toxins like that."