Ridley Terminals Inc. chair Bud Smith says the request made to Suncor Energy to use an anti-freezing agent in the petroleum coke shipped to the terminals was done for the safety of the staff and is needed in light of the increased demand and tonnage being handled at the Prince Rupert facility.
The comments come at a time when Suncor is involved in a court case against the terminal and while RTI is under a court order not to refuse product from the company due to the lack of an anti-freeze agent.
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“From time to time we have frost or freezing issues with everyone who uses RTI. When we had four or five customers and shipped between three and four million metric tonnes we could use our discretion to deal with such issues on site. In 2011 we have 11 contracts and will ship about three times that amount,” he said.
“During the past several months we’ve communicated or requested or given notice to customers to ensure frost issues are addressed so product flows freely out of rail cars and giant ice lumps aren’t dropped into our dumper. All but one has had success cooperating with RTI regarding frost issues.”
Smith says that ice issues at the terminal affect everything from the service for customers to management to worker safety and is an issue the company is certainly looking to address.
“On Christmas Day RTI workers ‘volunteered’ to unload customer product. A few days later, Suncor rail cars came with ice the size of grand pianos. Our equipment was broken and we lost 19 of 24 hours workers had volunteered,” he explained.
“The bottom line is RTI works with customers. But we put worker safety first.”
And while the matter between Ridley Terminals and Suncor remains before the court and has been ongoing since early January, Smith says they will continue to work with Suncor moving forward.
“If a customer gets a Court order we live with it. Suncor remains RTI’s customer and we look forward to honouring their contract,” he said.