A pipeline that currently carries natural gas across northern Ontario could one day be filled with Alberta oil.

TransCanada Corporation is floating a plan to transport oil to eastern Canada in the 50-year-old pipeline as an alternative to the controversial Keystone XL through the US.

The pipeline crosses northern Ontario from Hearst, down through Temiskaming and North Bay.

It runs through Evanturel Township near Engelhart, where dairy farmer Jack Briggs is the reeve.

Briggs said he's looking forward to hearing more about the plans, but said there is an obvious difference if the pipeline is carrying oil.

"There's a lot more danger," he said, referring to the potential for environmental damage.

Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific repair crews worked through Wednesday night and early Thursday morning outside White River, about an hour northwest of Wawa, at the site of a train derailment.Thousands of litres of crude oil leaked from two tankers that were among 22 rail cars that left the track.

CP spokesperson Ed Greenberg said the company expects to get a better idea later Thursday as to how long it will take to re-open the line over the north shore of Lake Superior.

‘Don’t pay much attention’

The oil spill comes as a plan to move Alberta oil across northern Ontario begins to receive a lot of national attention.

Briggs said he hasn't heard anything about TransCanada looking at converting its natural gas pipeline to oil.

He noted, however, that any construction could be good for Evanturel Township, where the TransCanada pipeline is already the biggest taxpayer.

Co-existing with the pipeline has been effortless, he said.

Briggs said he’s personally seen two fiery ruptures of the natural gas pipeline in the past 30 years. But, despite that, Briggs said people in his area barely notice it.

"There's a lot of people really don't pay much attention to it because it's never been a trouble other than these two ruptures," he said.

The idea to convert the gas-carrying pipeline to one that transports oil still needs to go through a series of government approvals. The earliest oil could start following through the pipeline is 2017.