Press Release: Kerrobert Oil by Rail

Press Release
Saskatchewan Environmental Society
Monday, November 18, 2013
For immediate release

Oil Rail Terminal Needs Environmental Assessment

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society (SES) has asked the Province of Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada to take a coordinated approach and to require that TORQ Transloading Inc. prepare an Environmental Impact Study on its proposed oil by rail terminal in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan.

“Although TORQ has signaled it hopes to have the terminal in Kerrobert operational in 2014, we see no evidence of TORQ having submitted a completed Environmental Impact Study (EIS) to either the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency” said Bert Weichel, SES President. “This is a significant oversight by either the relevant government Ministries or by TORQ itself, as the potential impacts of the terminal and its rail shipments will be large.”

“There are three key concerns SES has about the proposed Kerrobert terminal”, Weichel said.

“The first is public safety. A new oil by rail terminal at Kerrobert will increase the movement of oil through Saskatchewan communities by approximately 240 rail cars per day, and that in turn will increase the risk of derailments and accidents in Saskatchewan. These accidents can be extremely serious, as recent events in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Gainford, Alberta, and Pickens County, Alabama illustrate.” 47 people died in the July 6, 2013 Lac Megantic derailment, and the lake adjacent to the town suffered serious crude oil contamination. In the case of the October 19th Gainford derailment and November 8th Pickens County derailment, huge fires ensued. The SES President noted that “TORQ and the provincial and federal ministries need to be transparent with the public about proposed shipping routes, the communities that could potentially be impacted, the kind of tanker cars that will be deployed, and many other safety related issues. Moreover, both Ministries should be actively involved in negotiating with TORQ to ensure that good safety procedures are used at the terminal, that extremely volatile products are not shipped to the terminal, that only modern rail cars are used for shipping crude oil, and that safety comes first in governing all oil shipments that take place. The first step that lays the foundation for all this work is the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study.”

“The second impact of concern”, Weichel said “is greenhouse gas emissions that will be triggered by the proposed oil by rail terminal.” The terminal will make possible the extraction and movement of 168,000 barrels of oil per day, much of it coming from heavy crude sources, including the oil sands. The SES President pointed out that the Kerrobert terminal is being proposed at the very time that both the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are warning against locking in investments in carbon intensive energy production. “Therefore”, Weichel said, “the necessary Environmental Impact Study should carefully assess all climate-related impacts of the proposed oil by rail terminal.”

“The third area that requires careful study is the impacts the proposed oil-by-rail terminal will have on heavy truck traffic in the Kerrobert region. Heavy truck traffic will clearly rise significantly”, Weichel said, “with consequent impacts on public safety and damage to the local road network. The scale of these impacts and their projected costs need to be carefully assessed.”

These are the most important reasons why a comprehensive Environmental Impact Study should be prepared on the proposed Kerrobert oil by rail terminal, the SES President concluded. “We look to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for assurance that TORQ will be required to undertake this important work.”