Tank cars approved for use on North American railways have load limit of up to 92,700 kg. Between 80 and 90 cars per week carry Alberta crude across B.C. to Washington state. (Wikipedia)

Oil-by-rail traffic rises as B.C. battles over Trans Mountain pipeline

Trainloads increasing from Alberta to Washington refineries

While politicians bicker about the long-planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, crude oil and diluted bitumen shipments by rail continue to increase in B.C.

B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong presented documents in the B.C. legislature Thursday, including a Washington state ecology department report showing steadily increased crude oil by rail since the state began accepting oil trains in 2012. And a similar increase is occurring in Canada.

“The National Energy Board says that whereas 7,000 barrels a day were transported in Canada in 2012, that is now up to over 15,000 barrels a day,” de Jong told the legislature. “The [International] Energy Agency in Paris predicts that by 2019, 600,000 barrels a day will be transported by rail in the absence of additional pipeline capacity.”

The 2017 Washington report states that crude by rail from Alberta enters the state at Bellingham. The route follows Interstate 5 and crosses or runs beside major waterways, including the Columbia River and Puget Sound. The report records between 80 to 90 rail cars per week carrying Alberta heavy crude from the Fort McMurray oil sands.

Washington receives volumes of Alberta heavy crude ranging from 60,000 to 123,000 barrels per week, plus larger amounts light crude from shale oil deposits in North Dakota, coming into refineries and shipping facilities in Washington by rail. North Dakota’s Bakken shale is the same source as the oil train that crashed and exploded in Lac Megantic, Que. in 2013, killing 47 people.

Premier John Horgan, who has fielded all pipeline-related questions this week on behalf of ministers of energy, environment and transportation, repeated his defence of the government’s plan to consult on new regulations and seek court judgments on B.C.’s role in a federally-approved project.

RELATED: Alberta moves to restrict petroleum to B.C.

“If the premier is answering all the questions, he can answer this one too,” de Jong said. “What steps is his government taking to protect the people in McBride, in Kamloops, in Cache Creek, in Lytton, in Hope, in Chilliwack, in Abbotsford and Langley from the kind of disaster we have seen happen in Canada before and that his government is making more likely to occur in British Columbia?”

Chilliwack MLA Laurie Throness described the situation in his community, including a train derailment in 1984.

“Twenty-eight trains, many of them carrying oil, barrel through our city every day and night at speeds of up to 80 km/h,” Throness said. “On the other hand, the Trans Mountain pipeline also goes through the community. It’s silent, it’s safe and there hasn’t been an incident in 60 years.”

Lumber, grain and other Western Canada commodities are reporting shipping backlogs this year due to a shortage of rail cars, partly due to the increase in oil traffic on railways.

Just Posted

Chilliwack pauses to remember

Services held special significance, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Early morning bagpipe playing at Chilliwack memorial on Nov. 11

Piper Greg McCormick taking part in international Battle’s Over tribute at Piper Richardson statue

Ask the Coach: Prepping BCHL players for the NCAA

Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney answers questions unfiltered in Ask the Coach.

Biggest blanket drive of the year starts Tuesday in Chilliwack

Realtors Care Blanket Drive keeping the most vulnerable warm in winter since 1995

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

BCHL’ers on NHL Central Scouting player’s to watch list

The list includes seven current BCHL skaters

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

‘Weird Al’ brings Strings Attached tour to Lower Mainland next summer

Legendary musical satirist performs with full symphony orchestra

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Most Read