Oil by rail plan nixed
WINNIPEG—A rail company is putting the brakes on a controversial plan to haul millions of litres of crude oil across its northern rail line to the port of Churchill on Hudson Bay.
Omnitrax Canada president Merv Tweed said the company, which operates the port in Manitoba, is expecting another record shipping season from grain and other commodities.
Omnitrax had argued the plan to transport oil across hundreds of kilometres of remote rail line built on permafrost was safe, and would help create much-needed jobs in the north.
But the proposal was vehemently opposed by aboriginal groups, environmentalists, and the government of Manitoba.
Community consultations were “important factors” in the company’s decision to back away from the plan, Tweed said.
“We listened to them. I share some of their concerns,” he remarked. “I’m not saying we can’t do it,” Tweed added.
“I’m just saying right now, as the president of a company that’s looking to grow, we need to focus on the grain market.”
The northern rail line has been plagued by derailments that intermittently have forced the suspension of both freight and passenger services.
That bolstered the argument among detractors that shipping oil along the rail line was too risky to the environment and the safety of those who live in the region.