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Canadian National Rail (CN Rail) is scoping out hauling tar sands-filled tanker cars to West Coast Pacific ports. CN has already started shipping pure bitumen from Fort McMurray, Alberta to markets in the US. Given the opposition to pipeline proposals, such as Northern Gateway, even pipeline companies like Enbridge have started investing in shipping oil by rail.
But opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal from communities and First Nations across the province will hold equally true for CN’s proposal. Just look at the bans and resolutions already passed in British Columbia. The Union of BC Municipalities passed a resolution against any expansion of oil tanker traffic to the West Coast. Several municipalities along the proposed Northern Gateway route and CN’s rail line have passed their own resolutions against oil tanker traffic. Coastal First Nations have a tanker ban in place that applies to any tar sands supertankers in the North Pacific Coast. The Save the Fraser Declaration, signed by over 130 First Nations, applies to the transport of tar sands through the watershed, regardless of whether its done by rail or pipeline.
On top of facilitating tar sands expansion, putting our wild salmon rivers at risk from train derailments, and introducing oil tankers to our North Coast, extra rail traffic would also have significant impacts on moose kills, noise and air quality, and additional waits at road/rail crossings. Impacts will be felt directly by residents along the rail line.
The Port of Prince Rupert has been assessing community reaction to shipping tar sands by rail by holding focus groups in several communities. Politicians in potentially impacted areas have heard that things are being set in motion within the next 6 months. Most permits required for this to go through are controlled by the federal government.
Developing Canada’s tar sands is toxic to our climate. The transportation of the highly corrosive substance, by pipeline or rail, could devastate local communities. We won’t stand by and watch.
We need to stop that oil train to Rupert before it leaves the station. We’ll have more information in the New Year and will let you know as more details emerge on what we can do to make sure this project gets stopped in its tracks.