Nexen, the Chinese Communist Party's anchor in Athabasca, is urging Canadian National Railways to start shipping bitumen by rail car to Prince Rupert where it can then be loaded on supertankers for transport to the Peoples' Liberation Army and other users.
Apparently China is getting impatient with Comrade Steve's inability to make headway on the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat and so they've taken matters in their own hands. For some strange reason, opponents of the Northern Gateway aren't mollified by the proposal to ship bitumen across B.C. by rail. This will give you some idea why:
Much of northern British Columbia is mountainous. We don't build rail lines over mountains but around them, through the valleys. Really scenic stuff. Something else runs through those valleys - rivers. You can blame that on gravity. That's the same gravity that would send a bitumen spill in the same direction, downhill, right into those rivers as they wend their way inexorably to the sea or, as the Harper government calls it, "tidewater."
Now a little bit of bitumen goes a long way. Just ask the people of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The river in the picture isn't like the Kalamazoo River. In Michigan, spill workers were dealing with a slow moving, soft-bottom, shallow river surrounded by open, level ground with easy road access. As the photo above reveals we have very fast moving, very rocky bottom rivers, that are extremely hard to access and may not have a road anywhere nearby. What the photo doesn't reveal is that these rivers are where our salmon come from. They feed the spawning beds.
In oil spill recovery, rapid containment is the name of the game. How in hell do you contain a bitumen catastrophe in a raging, mountain river in the wilderness of northern B.C. at all much less rapidly?
The totalitarian government's attitude (China, not Ottawa) seems to be 'just get the stuff to a northern port and our supertankers will take it from there'. We're still back to the same supertanker threat as the Kitimat proposal but that's obviously no problem for the Beijing Politburo. Like the Harper government, his Chinese masters could care less about coastal British Columbia.
And so, Canadian National, should they decide to accept Beijing's overtures, is as much a threat to British Columbia as Enbridge. Just another fight.