The Chief of Pic River First Nation says he's concerned the potential effects of last week's train derailment and oil spill near White River are being minimized.

It's been more than a week since a train derailed and spilled more than 63,000 litres of oil near White River.


Pic River First Nation Chief Roy Michano. (Supplied)

Canadian Pacific Railway and government officials say they are not concerned about a large-scale environmental impact, but Roy Michano thinks it's too soon to know.

He said he realizes that going against rail is going against the economic interests of his community, but added, "Can we look at the big dollar as the sacrifice of destroying our aboriginal, our treaty and traditional land, for the future of our children? I don't think we can do that."

Unanswered questions

The Ministry of the Environment said its inspector has left the site, but is continuing to monitor the clean up.

Michano said he is still waiting to hear from Canadian Pacific. He has questions about what would happen if oil spilled closer to his Pic River First Nation.

"Are we going to be capable financially to take care of things," he said. "Are we going to have to move our community? I don't know."


Site of derailed train cars at the bottom of a rock cut embankment near White River, Ont. (Transportation Safety Board)

When community members blocked the CP line as part of Idle No More, oficials with the railway said the company would listen to concerns about safety issues. Michano said that hasn't happened and he would like to know more in light of the recent spill.

"Have we been consulted about that? Because that is important."

CP spokesperson Ed Greenberg said Michano was not contacted about the spill because the First Nation wasn't affected. However, CP did contact Pic Mobert First Nation, which is located much closer to the spill site.


A Ministry of the Environment map of the train derailment site near White River, Ont. The accident happened just before 8 a.m. on April 3, when a Canadian Pacific freight train left the track and 22 cars were derailed. A tank car leaked more than 63,000 litres of crude oil. (Supplied)

The company is planning a meeting with Pic River and nearby Pic Mobert, a community that has also expressed concerns about the spill's fallout.

"If there's a co-operative approach we can take in ongoing preparedness, then our company is certainly prepared to do that," Greenburg said.

Michano noted he also wants to know what's on the trains that pass through his community, as well as Pic Mobert First Nation, Pays Plat First Nation, and other northern Ontario communities.

Greenberg said CP is open to discussions with First Nations on what exactly is on each rail car that passes through their communities, but added "everything that is on a train is well documented in accordance to federal and industry regulations. And CP ensures local first responders have the appropriate train information in the event of an incident."