Last year we learned that the global tank storage company, Vopak, was teaming up with AltaGas to build a propane terminal at Prince Rupert (The Northern View May 5, 2017). The AltaGas project will be the first propane export terminal on Canada’s west coast. Now we learn that more flammable cargo may be riding the rails through the Bulkley Valley.
Vopak has applied for environmental certification to build a terminal for liquid bitumen refinery products (Interior News Oct 3, 2018). The Vopak Project would load Panamax class sea-going oil tankers, each holding 500,000 barrels of petroleum product. This project would see the first diesel oil tankers on the North Coast and would result in unprecedented oil-by-rail volumes on the CN rail line.
The Interior News states “At full capacity, Vopak expects the 240 rail cars per day (60 for liquefied petroleum gas, 90 for clean petroleum products, such as diesel or gasoline, and 90 for methanol).” I respectfully dispute the word “clean” to describe these petroleum products. The CN rail line runs close to the Bulkley and Skeena rivers and these products are highly toxic to aquatic life if spilled.
Of most concern to communities along the CN line is the fact that, under the right conditions, they are explosive. Remember the disastrous explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec involving only 73 tank cars of petroleum liquids? If you don’t remember, google “oil train explosions.”
If the Vopak project is approved, roughly 300 tank cars per day of flammable petroleum products could soon be rolling through our cities, towns and reserves.
I have one question. Are our communities ready for this?
Friends of Morice Bulkley