Omnitrax’s Churchill crude oil plan dead on the tracks
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 2, 2014 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Canada’s federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt came out bluntly against shipping oil through the north any time soon, in statements that will stop plans to ship oil by rail through Churchill dead on the tracks.
“I can tell you: one oil spill or accident in the Arctic is one visual you do not want to have in this world at all,” Minister Raitt said, when asked about shipping in the north during a Canadian American Business Council event on Tuesday in Washington D.C.
The Minister’s remarks will have profound impacts on the proposal from Omnitrax Inc., which involves shipping crude oil by rail to the port of Churchill, then by tanker through the Arctic waters of Hudson Bay.
“Minister Raitt’s comments are unequivocal,” said Eric Reder, Campaign Director for the Wilderness Committee. “Shipping oil north of the 60th parallel is too risky. We cannot send crude through Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.”
Omnitrax has stated it would begin shipping crude oil in the summer of 2014, against the wishes of Manitoba’s provincial government. The Manitoba government is currently investigating the establishment of new protected areas on the shores of Hudson Bay – as well as added marine protections for beluga whales – that would help put an end to oil shipping plans.
According to media reports, Minister Raitt said the complications with Arctic shipping for now will give policy-makers ample time to prepare all the safety protocols necessary to protect the pristine region from spills. Raitt also said she’s looking forward to the release of a report this fall with recommendations on shipping north of the 60th parallel.
“It’s not just always about the economy. I can’t believe I said that as a Conservative. But it’s not always about the economy. You’ve got to balance it out with what’s happening in terms of safety, and the environment too,” said Minister Raitt.
The Wilderness Committee has drawn attention to the lack of oil spill response equipment in Hudson Bay, and the difficulty of cleaning up an oil spill in icy, windy northern waters.
“The region is clearly not able to handle the shipment of any crude oil. Instead, the fragile and important northern ecology – including beluga and polar bear habitat – should be protected,” said Reder.
The Wilderness Committee continues to call on the federal government to permanently ban the shipment of crude oil through Churchill and Hudson Bay.
For more information, contact:
Manitoba Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee