CN Rail proposed in March to Natural Resources Canada for the government body to allow it to move Alberta's bitumen to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, by train, instead of transporting the tar oil through pipelines.
Claude Mongeau, president and chief executive officer of Canadian National Railway Company (CN), speaks to the press following the company's annual meeting in Montreal, April 27, 2010
The information is part of internal communications obtained by Greenpeace through the Access to Information Act.
Chinese-owned Nexen is behind the CN Rail suggestion to load the crude oil on tankers for eventual export to Asia. Keith Stewart, Greenpeace researcher, said the proposal to ferry the oil by rail would seem to be a plan B because of the heavy opposition from green groups and aborigines to the planned Enbridge Northern Territory Gateway pipeline.
The wisdom and safety of ferrying the bitumen through rail is being questioned by environmental groups in the light of the recent Lac-Megantic train disaster in July when a train full of crude oil derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and spilling or burning 5.5 million litres of oil for four days in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.
CN Rail, however, insisted to The Canadian Press there was no specific crude-by-rail plan to Prince Rupert was discussed with Natural Resources Canada. But the rail firm said it would continue to find new opportunities to move crude oil safely and efficiently to markets.
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