A train that recently derailed and exploded outside of Edmonton was carrying oil destined for Burnaby’s Chevron refinery.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, a CN train carrying oil and propane derailed and caught fire in a rural area roughly 90 kilometres west of Edmonton. No one was hurt, but nearby residents were evacuated. Thirteen cars derailed – nine of those contained liquefied petroleum gas, while four were carrying crude oil.
“There was crude oil on that train destined for the refinery,” said Ray Lord, spokesperson for Chevron’s Burnaby refinery. “The cars that were carrying the crude oil for that refinery were not involved in the actual derailment. There will be a little delay, but we expect them to arrive as normal.”
Chevron has a trans-loading facility in Langley, where crude transported by rail is offloaded onto trucks and then driven to the refinery. Chevron also has a railcar facility close to the refinery, to receive rail shipments of crude, but Lord said that has been operating safely since May.
Lord was unsure how much of the train’s shipments were destined for Chevron.
“They weren’t damaged,” he added. “We feel crude can be transported safely by rail. We believe pipelines are still the safer, more economical way to get crude to the refinery, but because of the issue I know you’re familiar with – the pipeline supply capacity – we’ve had to resort to rail, which a lot other parts of the energy industry have had to as well,” he said.
The Burnaby refinery gets most of its oil supply from the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline, but Chevron has had to resort to trucks and trains to bring in enough oil, since demand on the pipeline has been higher than the maximum volume the company can ship.
For Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart, the derailment does not bolster support for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, which would increase volume on the Trans Mountain pipeline from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day by twinning the existing line. The new pipeline will transport diluted bitumen, which Chevron can’t refine anyway, Stewart pointed out.
“Chevron can only process conventional crude. They cannot process the oil coming down the (proposed twin) pipeline,” Stewart said. “None of it will be used for local use. A new pipeline will not help.”
Stewart said the debate should not be pipelines versus trucks or trains.
“It should be why local people want a giant pipeline running through our community. It doesn’t benefit us, it won’t be used by us,” he said.
He also invoked the spectre of Lac-Megantic, a small town that was consumed by flames, following the derailment of a train carrying crude.
“Lac-Megantic shows you what happens when things go wrong. This (existing Kinder Morgan) pipeline has already spilled 40,000 barrels since it was constructed,” he added. “To say it’s safe is a joke.”
According to Stewart, Canada needs a national energy strategy to make sure our energy needs are met and move more toward renewable energy.
CN said it is investigating the cause of the derailment, and the track had been recently tested and there were no issues.
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