A First Nations blockade of a Canadian National Railway Co. link between the Sarnia, Ontario, petrochemical industry and mainlines has disrupted rail shipments of propane.
The barrier on the spur line, over which an average 450 Canadian National rail cars pass each day, began Dec. 21, according to Jim Feeny, a Montreal-based spokesman for the company. The disruption may force petrochemical plants to shut, he said Dec. 26.
“The blockade is impacting propane supplies to points east in Ontario into Quebec and as far away as Atlantic Canada,” Jim Facette, chief executive officer in Ottawa for the Canadian Propane Association, a trade group, said in a telephone interview today. The disruption has forced shut a Pembina Pipeline Corp. propane terminal in Sarnia, he said.
Shawn Davis, a spokeswoman for Pembina in Calgary, said the company’s Corunna, Ontario, terminal near Sarnia hasn’t been able to ship propane or butane since yesterday.
“We are able to accommodate all of our requested volumes through our other rail terminals,” Davis said in a telephone interview. “There have been no Pembina customers impacted to date.”
Pembina Pipeline’s Empress East natural gas liquids system includes 20,000-barrels-a-day fractionation capacity in Sarnia, according the company’s website.
The blockade was initially organized by the Aamjiwnaang First Nation to bring attention to another First Nations’ attempt to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said Ron Plain, a spokesman for the Aamjiwnaang.
Protesters now say the Canadian National railway line runs illegally over their property and are demanding that the same environmental restrictions applied to chemical shipments in Canada be extended to First Nations land, he said.
“There are no legal issues with our rail line,” Feeny said. “It does run through First Nations property but we have title to the land. In terms of environmental standards that apply to chemical shipments, these are Transport Canada’s standards which apply across the country and we are in full compliance with.”
Products carried on the blockaded line include polyethylene, methanol, butane and propane, according to Feeny.