Manitoba government opposes plan to ship oil by rail to Churchill

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Unionist
Manitoba government opposes plan to ship oil by rail to Churchill

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Unionist

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-opposes-plan-to-ship-oil... Canada was planning a trial shipment of crude oil next month[/url]

Quote:

The Manitoba government says a rail company's plans to start transporting oil across hundreds of kilometres of remote rail line built on permafrost is too risky to the environment and the safety of those who live in the north.

NDP Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said in light of the deadly train derailment in Lac Megantic, Que., earlier this year, Manitoba can't support the shipment of crude oil through its fragile northern environment to the port in Churchill. [...]

While Omnitrax says the plan is safe and will help create much-needed jobs in the north, environmentalists and First Nations worry it will jeopardize the livelihoods of aboriginal communities and pose a huge risk to wildlife. [...]

Omnitrax president Merv Tweed, the former MP for the Brandon-Souris riding, said the idea of hauling oil by rail is new and it will take time for people to get used to the concept. [...]

Grand Chief Irvin Sinclair, with the Keewatin Tribal Council, said people still hunt and trap on the land. One derailment or spill is all it would take to destroy the livelihood of generations, Sinclair said.

"There goes the wildlife," he said. "There goes a way of life for everybody if something drastic happens ... It would be devastating to the environment."

Well done, Steve Ashton!

My concerns: 1. The government has told Omnitrax to "go back to the drawing board" - so they haven't ruled out a "safer" proposal being accepted. 2. Omnitrax crosses the Saskatchewan border, which makes it a federal jurisdiction railway. Not sure how much legal say the Manitoba government has over anything Omnitrax does.

In any event, it's a good stand, and hopefully enough feet will be held to enough fire to make it stick.

 

PrairieDemocrat15

Unionist wrote:

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-opposes-plan-to-ship-oil... Canada was planning a trial shipment of crude oil next month[/url]

Quote:

The Manitoba government says a rail company's plans to start transporting oil across hundreds of kilometres of remote rail line built on permafrost is too risky to the environment and the safety of those who live in the north.

NDP Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said in light of the deadly train derailment in Lac Megantic, Que., earlier this year, Manitoba can't support the shipment of crude oil through its fragile northern environment to the port in Churchill. [...]

While Omnitrax says the plan is safe and will help create much-needed jobs in the north, environmentalists and First Nations worry it will jeopardize the livelihoods of aboriginal communities and pose a huge risk to wildlife. [...]

Omnitrax president Merv Tweed, the former MP for the Brandon-Souris riding, said the idea of hauling oil by rail is new and it will take time for people to get used to the concept. [...]

Grand Chief Irvin Sinclair, with the Keewatin Tribal Council, said people still hunt and trap on the land. One derailment or spill is all it would take to destroy the livelihood of generations, Sinclair said.

"There goes the wildlife," he said. "There goes a way of life for everybody if something drastic happens ... It would be devastating to the environment."

Well done, Steve Ashton!

My concerns: 1. The government has told Omnitrax to "go back to the drawing board" - so they haven't ruled out a "safer" proposal being accepted. 2. Omnitrax crosses the Saskatchewan border, which makes it a federal jurisdiction railway. Not sure how much legal say the Manitoba government has over anything Omnitrax does.

In any event, it's a good stand, and hopefully enough feet will be held to enough fire to make it stick.

 

A lot. Northern Gateway crosses a provincial border, but BC still has a lot of say. Provincial power and influence has increased a lot since the BNA Act was written.

Centrist

Unionist wrote:
Not sure how much legal say the Manitoba government has over anything Omnitrax does.

Provincial governments have absolutely no say on what a railroad transports unfortunately.

Case in point... due to over-subscription on Kinder Morgan's TransMountain oil pipeline to Vancouver, the neighbouring Chevron oil refinery in Burnaby has resorted to oil shipment by rail from Alberta to provide it with oil feedstock.

No environmental assessment required, no government approvals, absolutely nothing required. Unfortunately.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Our country's railroads have been the biggest ongoing scam since they were being bullt. The original crooks not only got land grants but also the right to do what ever they wanted to on the line with no interference from uppity locals. Reigning in the rail system would make a good election platform even if the attack dogs in the MSM will hate it.  Every town and village with a rail line running through it is a potential disaster site. 

PrairieDemocrat15

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Our country's railroads have been the biggest ongoing scam since they were being bullt. The original crooks not only got land grants but also the right to do what ever they wanted to on the line with no interference from uppity locals. Reigning in the rail system would make a good election platform even if the attack dogs in the MSM will hate it.  Every town and village with a rail line running through it is a potential disaster site. 

Don't forget the 30 some years of tax freedom for the publicly-financed, privately-owned CPR.

jerrym

Unionist asked me to transfer my postings from a new thread I started on this topic (I didn't see that there was already a thread on this issue). Perhaps the other thread could be discontinued.

 

On December 18th, The Wilderness Committee announced that it wants the Manitoba NDP provincial government to pass provincial legislation against the rail shipment of oil to Churchill. 

OmniTrax, which owns the railway to Hudson Bay Railway (HBR) and the Port of Churchill, wants to ship 3.3 million barrels per year by means of the HBR to Churchill. It plans a trial shipment of 330,000 barrels of Albertan oil in July. 

The Wilderness Committee's Eric Reder, the environmental group’s campaign director in Manitoba, said 

 

Quote:

the federal government may have jurisdiction, but the Lac Megantic accident, which killed 47 people in Quebec last year, might shift the balance of legislative authority when it comes to shipping oil. ...

 

He said shipping oil through Churchill is an outlandish concept for a long list of reasons.

The community’s economy depends heavily on tourists who visit the community to see polar bears. However, Reder said an expanded petroleum industry would spew additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which warms the Arctic Ocean and puts polar bears at risk.

“Far and away the biggest concern (with shipping oil to Churchill) is that we would build more fossil fuel infrastructure, which keeps us on a path of running our country and civilization for 10 years longer than we need to on oil,” he said.

“It can’t be said too strongly how insane the plan is to take great risk to increase fossil fuel extraction.”

As well, Reder said the Hudson Bay rail line is unsuitable for oil shipments. He traveled to Churchill by rail in the fall, and there were multiple derailments on the track or at the port during his stay.

“Four days of travel and four accidents on that line,” he said.

“People tell you how bad this track is. You can see how bad this track is. It’s obvious why there are problems.”

He said there is also the risk of an oil spill in Hudson Bay, which would be nearly impossible to clean up.

Skimmer ships, booms and dispersants are used to contain and mitigate oil spills in warmer climates, but those maritime resources don’t exist on Hudson Bay. Even if they were in place, he added, it’s unlikely such strategies would work.

“Skimmer ships don’t work because they don’t work in waves and they don’t work on ice,” he said.

“We can’t handle a spill up there.”

 

http://www.producer.com/daily/environmental-group-pans-shipping-oil-thro...

Merv Tweed resigned as Con MP for Brandon-Souris in order to take over as President of OmniTrax Canda in September, 2013, showing how closely linked the Harper government is to this project. 

Former Liberal Cabinet Minister Lloyd Axworthy has heartily endorsed Tweed's taking over of OmniTrax and looks forward to working closely with him, suggesting where the Libs are likely to stand on this issue.

http://www.omnitrax.com/media-center/news/13-09-03/omnitrax-canada-annou...

 

 

jerrym

Adding further concerns about the railway to Churchill is the number of accidents that have occurred along this route and OmniTrax's statements, that despite this, the railway is safe for the shipment of oil.

 

Quote:

 Figures from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada show there have been 63 accidents on the Hudson Bay rail line between 2003 and 2012. All but 10 were derailments. ...

 

But First Nations, who still rely on the wilderness for their living, are concerned moving crude oil through their traditional territory will threaten their way of life.

Grand Chief Irvin Sinclair, with the Keewatin Tribal Council, said people still hunt and trap on the land. One derailment or spill is all it would take to destroy the livelihood of generations, Mr. Sinclair said.

“There goes the wildlife,” he said. “There goes a way of life for everybody if something drastic happens. It would be devastating to the environment.”

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/shipping-oil-through-hudson-bay-too-risky-manitoba-transport-minister-says/article14431914/

 

 

 

jerrym

Unfortunately, in September, during the following interview NDP Manitoba Transportation Minister, Steve Ashton, simply says he is opposed to Omnitrax current proposal to ship oil by rail to Churchill and asks them "to go back to the drawing board" to develop a new plan and would not say whether the government would oppose a new plan. While the railway which also goes through Saskatchewan is under federal jurisdiction, a provincial government can creatively act to make it very difficult for a corporation to work within its jurisdiction. 

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Manitoba/Radio+Noon+-+Manitob...

 

 

 

 

Quote:

 At a news teleconference in Winnipeg after the throne speech, Manitoba NDP Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton said he envisions the new Churchill transportation authority to play a role similar to CentrePort Canada, under development in Winnipeg, to play a role both in terms of promotion and facilities.  

 

 Some legislative changes will be required to establish the new Churchill transportation authority, Ashton said, noting its creation was recommended in the final 60-page report last January of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on the Future of Churchill. ...

If you haven't heard of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on the Future of Churchill don't be surprised. As they note in their final report, Prime Minister Stephen Harper directed them to "maintain a low public profile and consultation approach." The task force consulted 60 individuals. That's right – 60. And among the "opportunities" identified by the joint Canada-Manitoba task force as possible over the next five years: "Ship light sweet crude oil by rail to Churchill for export from areas without sufficient pipeline capacity through private sector partnerships with east-coast refiners and oil producers. This opportunity is subject to fully addressing all potential environmental risks to sensitive Arctic ecosystems."

Beginning next July, OmniTRAX, a Denver-based short line railroad, hopes to transport 3.3 million barrels of crude oil annually on its Canadian subsidiary Hudson Bay Railway line from The Pas northeast through Thompson Junction and onto Churchill. Hudson Bay Railway was created in 1997 by OmniTRAX, the same year it took over operation of the Port of Churchill. OmniTRAX bought the Port of Churchill, which opened in 1931, when it acquired it from Canada Ports Corporation, for a token $10 soon after buying the rail line from CN in 1997 for $11 million.

 

http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/article/20131120/THOMPSON0302/311209994/-...

 

 

 

Auditor General Michael Ferguson has warned that there are considerable risks involved in oil transport by rail.

 

Quote:

 Opponents of a proposal to ship crude oil through the Port of Churchill are echoing concerns raised by Canada's auditor general this week about rail safety in general.

 

While Transport Canada made progress in addressing many of the recommendations from a Railway Safety Act review, the audit report found that a number of long-standing and important safety issues remain.

There were issues of "trespassing, grade crossings, concerns about the environment, the collection of data on safety performance from federal railways, and the implementation and oversight of safety management systems," the report found.

The report's findings were encouraging to critics of the OmniTrax oil shipment plan, like Paul Ratson of Nature 1st, an eco-tourism company in Churchill.

"There is a certain amount of comfort when it is coming from high levels in the government like the auditor general," Ratson told CBC News on Tuesday.

"But if every single person in this town stood up and said, 'No, we don't want that here,' we don't have the power here to stop it."

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/auditor-general-cites-significant...

 

 

jerrym

Quote:

 BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A company that operated a natural gas pipeline for more than two years without a permit will not be fined by the state Public Service Commission.

 

The pipeline by Hiland Operating LLC of Enid, Okla., was completed in 2010. The company told the commission in May 2012 that it did not have a permit.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that a company can be fined up to $10,000 per day for “willfully building an energy conversion facility or transmission line without a permit,” with the total fine not to exceed $200,000.

Commissioners say they don’t think the violation was intentional and fining Hiland might deter other companies from considering investment in North Dakota.

 

http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/12/23/company-wont-be-fined-for-pipeline-wi...

 

The above article may seem to have little to do with the shipping of oil to Churchill as currently it is Albertan oil that is proposed to be shipped to Churchill. However, it was North Dakota oil that was being shipped through Lac Megantic when the disastrous accident occurred in July. It is not inconceivable that the corporations involved in the North Dakota oil fields would be attracted to using Churchill for export as it is much closer than eastern Canada. 

With a regulatory attitude like North Dakota, it is no wonder that there have been oil tanker railway accidents with fireball explosions in below standard tankers in Lac Megantic, Casselton North Dakota, and Alabama carrying North Dakota oil. This kind of judgement says to corporations to break all rules - don't worry we won't do anything to you. And if you're thinking of investing here, absolutely no safety rules will get in your way.

If North Dakota oil were to be shipped to Churchill, the potential for accidents would become a multiple of what it already is. 

 

 

jerrym

Lending further urgency to demanding a ban on oil shipment to Churchill is the December 30th oil rail explosion near Casselton, North Dakota, the November 90-car derailment in Alabama that burst into flames and the October derailment near Gainford Alberta, resulting in evacuations of communities and the fire, ambulance, police and environmental costs being paid for by the taxpayer - in other words, a free ride for the problems created by the oil and rail corporations.  On TV, the mayor of Casselton said it is not a matter of if these kinds of accidents will occur but when. 

 

Quote:

 Residents of a small town in North Dakota were urged to evacuate after a BNSF train carrying crude oil collided with another train on Monday, setting off a series of explosions and fires, the latest in a string of incidents that have raised alarms over growing oil-by-rail traffic.

 

Local residents heard five powerful explosions just a mile outside of the small town of Casselton after a westbound 112-car train carrying soybeans derailed. An eastbound 106-car train hauling crude oil ran into it just after 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT), local officials said. There were no injuries in the collision that left 21 rail cars on fire, according to BNSF. ...

Residents within 5 miles (8 km) of Casselton were urged to evacuate to avoid contact with the smoke. Residents within 10 miles were asked to remain indoors. ...

Casselton City Auditor Sheila Klevgard said crews are pushing snow to contain the oil before it reaches a nearby creek.

Half of the oil cars have been separated from the train, but another 56 cars remain in danger, said Cecily Fong, the public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services. The collision destroyed both engines on the oil train. Both trains were operated by BNSF Railway Co, which is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The incident will likely stoke concerns about the safety of shipping increasing volumes of crude oil by rail, a trend that emerged from the unexpected burst of shale oil production out of North Dakota's Bakken fields. Over two-thirds of the state's oil production is currently shipped by rail. ...

The derailment occurred about a mile west of Casselton, a town of about 2,300 just west of Fargo, between an ethanol plant and the Casselton Reservoir, Fong said....

North Dakota is home to a raging shale oil boom that produced nearly 950,000 barrels of oil a day in October. It is also a major grain producer and long accustomed to a high volume of rail traffic.

But shipments of oil have surged lately, most of it the light, sweet Bakken variety that experts say is particularly flammable. ...

This summer, a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. The incident fueled a drive for tougher standards for such shipments, including potentially costly retrofits to improve the safety of tank cars that regulators have cited as prone to puncture.

In early November, two dozen cars on another 90-car oil train derailed in rural Alabama, erupting into flames that took several days to fully extinguish.

The Association of American Railroads recently proposed costly fixes to older tank cars that do not meet its latest standards but continue to carry hazardous fuels such as oil. The fixes include protective steel jackets, thermal protection and pressure relief valves, which could cost billions of dollars. Oil shippers, likely to be saddled with the costs of retrofits, oppose some of the changes proposed by the association.

 

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/12/30/two-trains-collide-in-north-dakota-...

 

Nevertheless, federal Transport Minsiter Lisa Riatt assured us after the Lac Megantic (July) and Gainford (October) accidents that, despite derailments, rail transport of oil is safe. It's time for the NDP to get more forceful on this issue. 

 

Quote:

 A train carrying propane and crude that crashed in the hamlet of Gainford, Alta., early Saturday morning is once again raising questions about the safety of moving oil by rail in Canada, particularly in the wake of July’s fatal rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que. No one was hurt in Gainford, but it was Canadian National Railway Co.’s third notable derailment in the past month involving hazardous materials, and it caused explosions and fire on both sides of a four-line highway. ...

 

Alberta’s oil industry is a key reason rail has become a popular shipping method. As oil-sands production climbs, the amount of available space on North America’s pipeline network declines. The province’s energy industry could stall if shipping by rail came off the table.

“The system is safe,” Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said in an interview Saturday. “Although we will see derailments, we’ve never seen an accident or an incident like Lac-Mégantic, that’s for sure. But the system is safe.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/alberta-derailment-prompts-...

 

 

 

 

 

 

jerrym

Further concerns have now been raised about the volatility of the Bakken shale oil of North Dakota and Montana in a safety alert released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Bakken shale oil is currently being shipped by rail across Canada and the United States and as noted above could find a new avenue for shipment if Churchill was opened up to the rail shipment of oil. This is the same type of oil involved in the deadly Lac Megantic accident in July, as well as the fiery explosions of a 90 tanker car train in rural Alabama in November and in Casselton, North Dakota on December 30th, where no one was hurt but hundreds were evacuated due to toxic fumes. Once again safety is only an afterthought when profits are involved. 

Quote:
 

The warning comes after the massive explosion caused by an oil train derailment on Monday near Casselton, N.D. No one was hurt, but worries about toxic fumes prompted the evacuation of hundreds of residents from the small town in eastern North Dakota. ...

In July, 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Que., when a train carrying Bakken crude derailed. Another oil train derailed and exploded in Alabama in November, killing no one but releasing an estimated 2.83 million litres of oil from 26 tanker cars.

Thursday's safety alert resulted in part from results of preliminary tests on Bakken oil to determine just how dangerous it is, said Jeannie Shiffer of the Department of Transportation's pipeline and hazardous material safety administration.

Shiffer said it is important to know the volatility of the oil so that it can be properly handled during shipping.

"Material must be properly classified at the beginning of the process. That determines everything," she said.

The issue of volatility is of particular importance for firefighters and other emergency responders who have to deal with accidents like the one in Casselton, said Fred Millar, a rail-safety consultant in Virginia.

While it may appear obvious that crude oil is dangerous, that message has not been fully shared with the hundreds of counties and cities across the U.S. that have seen a surge in crudeoil trains, Millar said.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Crashes+prompt+fire+warning+about+shale...

 

 

Pondering

jerrym wrote:
Former Liberal Cabinet Minister Lloyd Axworthy has heartily endorsed Tweed's taking over of OmniTrax and looks forward to working closely with him, suggesting where the Libs are likely to stand on this issue.

http://www.omnitrax.com/media-center/news/13-09-03/omnitrax-canada-annou...

In 2006, Axworthy supported Bob Rae's bid for the leadership of the Liberals Party of Canada , but supported Stéphane Dion after Rae dropped off the ballot. Axworthy supported Rae's unsuccessful candidacy in 2009, and in 2012 endorsed Joyce Murray's bid for the leadership .

Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Axworthy>

What a terrible man. Pictures of him should probably have a red filter over them so people realize the devil has him in his grips.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says a proposed west-east pipeline project will not go forward unless it addresses key environmental concerns.

Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. is in the process of lining up potential producers who would use the proposed pipeline, which would run from Alberta to New Brunswick.The federal Liberal leader told the CBC’s Information Morning Fredericton on Thursday he has specific questions about potential toxins that may be used in the pipeline.

“I think it is a proposal that is extremely interesting. We are waiting to look at how they are going to deal with both the community, local, aboriginal concerns and the environmental concerns,” Trudeau said. “The [substance] that they put to make that thick crude, thick bitumen run through those pipes can be very toxic. I want to see the plan for being environmentally responsible on it because it won’t go ahead if it will cost us on pollution, in degradation and in inefficiencies in the coming years.”

Pasted from <http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/24/justin-trudeau-east-west-pipeline_n_3326597.html>

I am personally against Keystone because I am against expansion of the oil sands but apparently it passed all environmental reviews. The Northern Gateway does not have social license and the East/West has not passed environmental reviews. Trudeau is being consistent. Mulcair supports the East/West which environmentally achieves the same goal as Keystone. Getting oil to ocean ports to justify the radical expansion of the oil sands.

Glass houses and all that.