Oil by rail could boom with new refinery

I have just learned that a proposal for the Kitimat Clean Refinery Project is now before the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and that the closing date for public comments is next Tuesday, June 7. This proposal is for a massive oil refinery near Kitimat, B.C. Kitimat is a long way from the Robson Valley. But that proposed refinery must get raw materials from somewhere, and the source will be bitumen from the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta. The original plan was to process bitumen transported via Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. But that pipeline is strongly opposed by many British columbians, and it is now doubtful that the Northern Gateway Pipeline will every be built. So the refinery proposal now specifies that the bitumen will be transported via tanker cars on the CN rail line. The Robson Valley is not the only possible rail connection between Fort McMurray and Kitimat, but it is the most direct line. So the current plan proposes shipping 400,000 barrels/day of bitumen by rail car, and the most likely rail route will be through our valley. That is approximately 490 tanker cars per day, cars like the DOT111 that have been involved in many derailments. One has to contemplate the risk that this poses to our communities, remembering such events as the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2013 that killed 47 people and destroyed a significant part of the town. The initial comment period closes next Tuesday, June 7. I would invite anyone who is concerned to please submit your comments to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency at: http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/document-eng.cfm?document=114459.

Sincerely, Jeff Corbett
McBride, B.C.

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