Cape Breton Post
Donkin-Morien residents unhappy with heavy coal truck traffic
A Port Morien man says Kameron Collieries is hauling away their quality of life. Claude Peach of Long Beach Road organized a community meeting Tuesday regarding residents’ concerns over safety and daily living due to the coal truck traffic.
“We want to find out if Kameron is looking at any alternative routes or if this is what we have to look forward to the next 25 years.”
He said trucks are travelling in both directions on the Long Beach Road down the Donkin-Morien highway to Dearn’s Corner, continuing to Sydney.
“Then the empty trucks come back the same route passing each other and our roads are not wide, there’s no sidewalks or shoulder,“he said.
“The residents are getting upset, especially with summer coming on, about the safety of children. The children ride their bicycles on these roads, parents are concerned.”
He said there are options for Donkin Mine including a proposal put forth a few years ago on a trucking route that could cross the highway from the mine site and follow the pole line to Sand Lake.
“At our meeting it was discussed to see if they would at least revisit that proposal,” he said.
“That takes all the traffic out of Donkin and Port Morien and all the concerns.”
Peach said when the meeting was organized it wasn’t known that the community liaison committee was meeting the same night, however two committee members still attended their meeting.
“They are taking our concerns back to Kameron Coal and are trying to organize a full-fledged community meeting.”
Paul Carrigan, chair of the community liaison committee, said although the committee was also meeting on the same night, after learning about the community meeting he and vice-chair Jamie MacIntosh left the community liaison committee meeting to attend the meeting over coal truck safety.
“We are the community liaison committee, they are part of the community and their concerns are our concerns as well. We agree with what they are saying.”
Carrigan said the community liaison committee will meet May 31 to discuss setting up a public meeting to address the concerns.
He said it is his understanding there is a road that could be developed to alleviate or eliminate the traffic issues in the area.
“That is what we are going to explore with the province and with Kameron Coal.”
Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said he has been taking to Peach about these concerns. He said Peach asked if in the short term consideration could be give for both the Port Morien and Donkin highways to be utilized.
“Instead of using one route back and forth there would be an established policy where coal trucks and service trucks would use both highways.”
However, he said, as the mine ramps up and traffic increases the question was what transportation mode should be used for that amount of coal, should production reach that point.
“I assured Claude and residents that to DOT and Donkin Mine officials, safety is the number one priority.
“We don’t want to impact people’s lives and people’s mobility but first and foremost we have to make sure we keep people safe.”
MacLellan said he will be speaking with Donkin Mine officials and the community liaison committee.
“The mine is great for economic development and job creation but it’s paramount we assure a safe transportation route both short term and over the course of the life of this mine.”
Shannon Campbell, general manager of Donkin Mine, said Kameron Collieries is dedicated to working with the municipal and provincial governments and ensuring they are working within their permits and approvals for transporting coal.
In an email response to a request for comment he said: “On site and off site, safety is one of our core values and our top priority. “We understand community feedback is important and utilize the CLC (community liaison committee) to dialogue on questions or concerns from the local residents. The CLC is actively engaged with the residents of Long Beach Road on this issue.”