Cullen lashes out at oil-by-rail proposal

Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said Nexen's plan to ship oil by rail to Prince Rupert is a potentially dangerous idea.

Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said Nexen’s plan to ship oil by rail to Prince Rupert is not only a bad idea, but a potentially dangerous one.

“After the disaster in La-Megantic in Quebec, it seems like not only poor timing but potentially a very bad idea to move the kind of volume that they’re talking about. It would make the volumes in Quebec seem like nothing … so many of these trains go right through our communities. Virtually within 50 feet of the downtown, like Quebec. If anything were to go wrong, we could see how wrong it goes,” he said, alluding to the train explosion that left 47 presumed dead and 30 buildings destroyed in July.

“I’ll admit, I’m weary of this. I don’t know if running the stuff on rail is any better than on a pipeline, and a pipeline is fraught with risk. It feels like a bit of a pipe dream, to be honest. You can never tell with these public disclosures if someone is just playing some sort of political game, or angle, and how serious they are.”

And, said Cullen, any talk about oil by rail would need to take place after CN addresses other concerns related to how it operates in the Northwest.

“That’s not me saying that, it’s our local fire chiefs and mayors. It feels like more and more is coming down the line, and CN hasn’t done a great job at bringing communities along side in funding both the safety infrastructure that we need …  my advice to CN is they have to reenter the conversation in the north, and get down to the community level. They need to meet with councils, chambers of commerce and business people that are being affected by this,” he said.

“When things like bitumen get proposed, if it doesn’t feel like there’s a good scene already, what are the chances people are going to be open to things that have a higher risk … for someone to come in and propose literally thousands and thousands of tankers with bitumen in them, in light of the disaster in Quebec, seems like a recipe to turn the public off before the conversation starts.”

As reported in the Northern Connector, the Prince Rupert Port Authority confirmed it is in discussion with Nexen about a potential oil export facility in Prince Rupert, but said any further information will not be released at this time.

“As for the details of those discussions, or conjecture about the possible location of future projects, they are protected by commercial confidentiality agreements until preliminaries calcify into concrete projects,” said manager of corporate communications Michael Gurney.

Nexen did not return email and phone requests for comment from the Northern View.