Hank Shelley

Hank Shelley

Column: A very emotional issue for all

By Hank Shelley, Observer contributor

Parked, in the semi-dark, cool, early morning, last week waiting for a CP west bound freight train to pass, through Salmon Arm, I started to count the tanker cars full of bitumen.

The count was 110. Two white-cradled tanks of chemicals, as well.

Suddenly I had a flash back of the many experiences I had as a fishery officer, and rail traffic. A split rail while waiting for a poacher one dark, rainy night hunkered under the 19 mile CP trestle over the Eagle River, below Griffin Lake. The grinding of steel on car wheels was explosive.

Standing on the track, flagging down a bright yellow, sulphur-laden, west bound freight with a hot box of overheated bearings shooting flame and smoke, 27 cars back, at Kay Falls, just west of the Enchanted Forest.

Sulphur is a dangerous chemical when mixed with water. Is it better to build the Kinder Morgan pipeline, to avoid a devastating derailment into the Thompson and Fraser rivers, destroying huge salmon runs and the total ecology out into the ocean off Vancouver?

Looking at the rail system’s record, despite upgraded safety, for both CN and CP. A few years back, June 29, two CN employees lost their lives when their locomotive, hit a rock and jumped the rails and plunged down to the Thompson River near Lytton. On July 31, the same year, 12 cars of a CP freight on CN tracks put 12 loaded coal cars into the Thompson River. Many will recall the Cheakamus river spill a few years back, when chemicals killed fish.

According to Ottawa, and Jim Carr Natural resources minister, B.C. can not infringe on federal jurisdiction on the impacts of national interest. The major issue is the increase of volume possibly as much as to 800,000 barrels to fuel three tankers at once at the terminal in Burrard Inlet, with increased tanker traffic.

The Texas-based Kinder Morgan $7.4 billion pipeline, according to CEO, Ian Anderson, will be built, and the stumbling blocks and delays will not deter building the pipeline.

The future of this project will have a very negative or positive everlasting effect on all aspects of our lifestyles, I still worry about those tanker cars full of bitumen rolling through our city. Then I think of Feb. 14, 2004, when in Montmagny, Quebec, 24 cars of a 122-car train carrying sulphuric acid, grain and cement derailed, causing devastation!