Ever since the Lac-Mégantic oil train derailment, explosion and fire that destroyed that town and killed 47 people, I have been concerned about the safety of the tanker trains that pass through Salmon Arm almost every day.
Alberta is already shipping bitumen diluted with flammable petroleum by CP Rail to the United States. This presents a huge safety risk to the communities through which these tanker trains are passing.
When tanker trains carrying diluted bitumen have derailed in the past, they resulted in large oil spills and fires. A rail industry publication calls these trains “a clear and present danger.”
It now appears that the practice of shipping bitumen diluted with this highly volatile and flammable mixture is to be replaced by a new method that does not require dilution.
This change did not happen because of government regulations. No, it happened because loss of the Keystone XL pipeline prompted new investment in this new DRUbit technique of removing the diluent liquid chemicals, a technique previously considered uneconomic.
This is welcome news for the communities through which tanker trains destined for the USA are passing.
But what about the tanker trains travelling west through Salmon Arm? Is CP Rail shipping diluted bitumen west through our community?
The Alberta government (current and previous) has been adamant about needing to ship its oil “to tidewater.” I recall former Alberta premier Rachel Notley stating that her government was purchasing 4,400 rail cars to ship oil west to tidewater. If Alberta is now shipping oil by rail south to the U.S., it’s reasonable to suspect that they are also shipping it west as well.
I think the people of Salmon Arm deserve some answers.