B.C. Liberals blame provincial government’s Trans Mountain stance on increase of crude by rail

A railway train hauls crude oil.
A railway train hauls crude oil. AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File

The B.C. Liberals are raising the alarm bells about an increase of crude oil by CN Rail shipments since the debate around the Trans Mountain pipeline has intensified.

CNR has moved 50 per cent more crude oil by rail during the third quarter to date, compared with the same period last year.

Ghislain Houle, the company’s CFO, told a conference last week that the Trans Mountain pipeline decision has “added years to crude by rail,” a reference to the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to overturn approval of the project’s expansion.

“The increased risk to public safety and the environment would not be happening were it not for the NDP’s reckless war on the Trans Mountain Pipeline project,” BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said.

“The NDP have been so concerned with pleasing their activist friends that they’ve forgotten about the dozens of communities in B.C. that will bear the consequences of a rail spill.”

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READ MORE: Feds a few days, not months, away from announcing Trans Mountain plan: Sohi

In a statement, the B.C. government says it “takes the topic of moving oil by rail very seriously” and are “committed to protecting people and the environment from the risks of diluted bitumen regardless of how it is shipped.”

The movement of product by rail is federal jurisdiction but the NDP government has moved to restrict the flow of bitumen through B.C. the same way it has proposed to do so for movement by pipeline.

“We know more needs to be done to mitigate potential spill risks and we will continue to work collaboratively with federal agencies,” the statement said. “We have a responsibility to ensure the best possible measures are in place to protect our province’s land, coast and waters from the impacts of potential spills.”

WATCH HERE: Cleanup continues after train carrying crude oil derails in Sturgeon County

Click to play video: 'Cleanup continues after train carrying crude oil derails in Sturgeon County'
Cleanup continues after train carrying crude oil derails in Sturgeon County

The province is working to get detailed information about the transportation of dangerous goods from carriers “in order to ensure communities have the information needed to prepare for and respond to spills.”

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This information has previously only been reported to the federal government.

The release also states that the vast majority of oil by rail shipments in Canada does not travel through B.C.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said on Friday that the federal government will announce, possibly as early as this week, its plan to restart the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Officials with both the federal and Alberta governments have been reviewing the process laid out in the federal court rejection of the work permits for the project.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline plan could be guided by former judge

The federal court of appeal ruled that the National Energy Board’s (NEB) review of the proposal was so flawed the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion. The pipeline expansion would see nearly three times as much crude moved from northern Alberta to a port in Burnaby for shipment to overseas markets.

“Transporting crude oil in rail cars is far more dangerous than in pipelines,” BC Liberal MLA Peter Milobar said. “The Premier himself admitted he has no idea how much oil is shipped by rail, yet seems to have no worries about blocking a much safer pipeline. The inevitable next oil spill from increased rail transport will be the fault of John Horgan and the NDP.”

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— With files from Reuters

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