Plan to load oil onto railway cars has residents leaving town
Altex Energy not the first to cause protests in Peace River District
A plan to ship heavy oil by railway out of Alberta's Peace River District has residents nervous in the small town of Falher where the oil would be loaded.
Altex Energy, of Calgary, has been looking for an alternative to the use of pipelines for getting the province's oil to market.
So it wants to load oil onto railway cars in Falher, more than 400 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
But some residents of Falher say the risk is too high.
The shovels are not even in the ground, but already some people have threatened to leave town over the plan by Altex.
That includes some teachers from a school located less than a kilometre away from the proposed plant where the oil would be loaded.
"It's a question of the health issues for our students, and for our staff," said the school's principal Nicole Wallisser.
Wallisser fears that Altex Energy might become another Baytex — a company she said exploits energy in the region.
"The Baytex company certainly has a negative connotation on the area. So people are basing their opinion with Baytex, and they're bringing that to the table when they're discussing Altex," Wallisser said.
Seven families decided to leave their homes after Baytex moved into the Peace River region.
Many of them said they developed health problems they believed were related to Baytex activities.
In a recent open house, Altex Energy promised to install an incinerator, or carbon filters to moderate the emissions.
That's enough to please the mayor of Falher, Margaret Tardif.
"They're scared of the fumes, of oil leaks. But we've got assurances from the company that there would not be any fumes," Tardif said.
She is looking forward to the new taxes and 14 jobs the oil-loading plant would bring to her community.