In August, Omnitrax Inc., owner of the Hudson Bay Railway and the Port of Churchill, announced they were planning a test shipment of oil to Churchill for export. The plan was to ship 330,000 barrels* of oil to Churchill for loading on a tanker. About $2 million in upgrades to port facilities were required to increase the pumping capacity there.
Groups have come out in opposition to this plan, including the Wilderness Council and the province of Manitoba. This is natural, considering what happened in Lac-Mégantic. One has to consider a few points, though:
- the Hudson Bay Railway is already shipping light petroleum products (gasoline and diesel) to Churchill;
- the Hudson Bay Railway has had reportable accidents every year from 2003 to 2012;
- emergency response to a spill on the line could be very difficult as much of the line is in very remote areas.
The CBC is reporting that Irving Oil is shifting "away from rail to transport crude" and will be doubling the amount of oil they will be receiving by barge from Albany, NY. Currently they are receiving a shipload of oil from Albany via the tanker Afrodite every 8 days, and the article says this will double shortly with another ship being added to the route.
The article is very misleading as it does not ask how the oil gets to Albany. Very likely it is being shipped by rail in the United States.
Incidentally, I was quoted recently in the Portland Press Herald in regard to idle tank cars in Maine.
* there is some confusion about whether the plan was for 330,000 barrels or gallons. Personally I can't imagine it was gallons because that's about 10 tank cars and hardly worth mentioning.