I would like to apologize for getting my numbers wrong in my letter last week.
The proposed Kitimat Clean Refinery is planned to have a processing capacity of 400,000 barrels/day to be shipped to Kitimat by train from the Athabasca tar sands. The most commonly used tanker cars on the rail lines are the infamous DOT 111 which have a capacity of about 820 barrels. This means about 490 tankers cars/day to supply to 400,000 barrels/day to the refinery.
I did this math and then in my letter last week I mistakenly reversed these number, stating 820 tanker cars/day, instead of 490 tanker cars/day. The fact remains, a very significant volume of bitumen would be passing though our valley and through our communities.
The reason this plan calls for shipping bitumen by rail is because British Columbians have been so strongly opposed the Northern Gateway Pipeline, strongly enough to make construction of that pipeline doubtful. Shipping by rail is an attempt to circumvent a regulatory review process that would require putting an oil-by-rail transportation plan before the public – an attempt to avoid the improbably task of gaining social licence to move the bitumen across our land.
The assumption is made: “the train tracks are already in place, without asking permission we can ship anything we want to over those tracks.” Remember, shipping this bitumen by rail vs. pipeline means taking the same raw product (bitumen), from the same source, to the same destination, along a similar route across B.C., with essentially of the same risks, except that the rail route passes though more populated areas and so posses greater risk to life and property.
Given a choice, I am sure the people of B.C. will oppose shipping by rail for many of the same reasons we opposed the pipeline. My concern is that unless we refuse to be ignored, we will never be given voice in this transportation plan.