February 18, 2015 3:55 pm

Northern B.C. chiefs want to stop oil transport through province by rail

Douglas Channel, the proposed termination point for an oil pipeline in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, is pictured in an aerial view in Kitimat on January 10, 2012.

Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — First Nations leaders in northern British Columbia are threatening to block all attempts to move oil through the province by rail as they explore alternatives.

The chiefs say they will meet in the next 30 to 45 days to discuss a plan, adding the mode of oil transport is putting their communities and the environment at risk.

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Five aboriginal leaders are leading the call to halt oil by rail as they cite the landmark Tsilhqot’in court decision, which they say reinforces the requirement for First Nations to be consulted over the railway in their territory.

READ MORE: Vowing to fight back: groups opposed to Northern Gateway pipeline approval speak out 

Burns Lake Indian Band Chief Dan George says oil by rail is a serious threat and the chiefs feel obligated to explore safer alternatives.

READ MORE: First Nations relations a hurdle to $650B in oil, gas development 

The chiefs are also against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal but have agreed to consider Eagle Spirit Energy – a pipeline being pitched by an aboriginal businessman as an alternative.

The new proposal would link Alberta’s oil sands to a tanker terminal on the B.C. coast and include a method to refine bitumen to a lighter product.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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