Tank cars approved for use on North American railways have load limit of up to 92,700 kg. Between 80 and 90 cars per week carry Alberta crude across B.C. to Washington state. (Wikipedia)

Oil-by-rail traffic rises as B.C. battles over Trans Mountain pipeline

Trainloads increasing from Alberta to Washington refineries

While politicians bicker about the long-planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, crude oil and diluted bitumen shipments by rail continue to increase in B.C.

B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong presented documents in the B.C. legislature Thursday, including a Washington state ecology department report showing steadily increased crude oil by rail since the state began accepting oil trains in 2012. And a similar increase is occurring in Canada.

“The National Energy Board says that whereas 7,000 barrels a day were transported in Canada in 2012, that is now up to over 15,000 barrels a day,” de Jong told the legislature. “The [International] Energy Agency in Paris predicts that by 2019, 600,000 barrels a day will be transported by rail in the absence of additional pipeline capacity.”

The 2017 Washington report states that crude by rail from Alberta enters the state at Bellingham. The route follows Interstate 5 and crosses or runs beside major waterways, including the Columbia River and Puget Sound. The report records between 80 to 90 rail cars per week carrying Alberta heavy crude from the Fort McMurray oil sands.

Washington receives volumes of Alberta heavy crude ranging from 60,000 to 123,000 barrels per week, plus larger amounts light crude from shale oil deposits in North Dakota, coming into refineries and shipping facilities in Washington by rail. North Dakota’s Bakken shale is the same source as the oil train that crashed and exploded in Lac Megantic, Que. in 2013, killing 47 people.

Premier John Horgan, who has fielded all pipeline-related questions this week on behalf of ministers of energy, environment and transportation, repeated his defence of the government’s plan to consult on new regulations and seek court judgments on B.C.’s role in a federally-approved project.

RELATED: Alberta moves to restrict petroleum to B.C.

“If the premier is answering all the questions, he can answer this one too,” de Jong said. “What steps is his government taking to protect the people in McBride, in Kamloops, in Cache Creek, in Lytton, in Hope, in Chilliwack, in Abbotsford and Langley from the kind of disaster we have seen happen in Canada before and that his government is making more likely to occur in British Columbia?”

Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness described the situation in his community, including a train derailment in 1984.

“Twenty-eight trains, many of them carrying oil, barrel through our city every day and night at speeds of up to 80 km/h,” Throness said. “On the other hand, the Trans Mountain pipeline also goes through the community. It’s silent, it’s safe and there hasn’t been an incident in 60 years.”

Lumber, grain and other Western Canada commodities are reporting shipping backlogs this year due to a shortage of rail cars, partly due to the increase in oil traffic on railways.

Just Posted

City councillor Robin Cherbo announces he’s running for re-election

Cherbo will be among the nominees for the Oct. 20 municipal election

Michelle Mungall on maternity leave

The Nelson-Creston MLA will return by the end of September

Nelson Regatta gently carves the waves on Kootenay Lake

Eight teams competed in the event last weekend

Starbelly Jam hits the stage this weekend

The annual festival runs Friday to Sunday in Crawford Bay

COLUMN: What it took for Nelson to win gold

Former Nelson Star editor Bob Hall reflects on a local soccer achievement

VIDEO: Endurance cyclists ride West Kootenay trails

The TransBC Enduro swung through Rossland, Castlegar and Nelson

Kitten OK after being rescued from underground pipe in B.C.

An adventurous feline has been rescued after getting trapped in an underground pipe in Kamloops, B.C.

A day after back-tracking, Trump defends summit performance

Amid bipartisan condemnation of his embrace of a longtime U.S. enemy, Trump at first sought to end 27 hours of recrimination by delivering a rare admission of error Tuesday.

Thai soccer players rescued from cave meet the media

Members of the Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue.

Elon Musk apologizes for calling cave rescue diver a ‘pedo’

Musk called a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile to his 22.3 million Twitter followers on July 15.

Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read