Omnitrax suspends Churchill crude oil shipment plans
Omnitrax president says no need to ship crude due to high demand for grain and other commodities
Omnitrax has suspended crude oil shipping plans through the Port of Churchill indefinitely.
The Friday morning announcement comes on the heels of another derailment in the north.
Omnitrax president Merv Tweed confirmed the company doesn't need to ship oil this year because of a huge increase in shipments of grain and other commodities.
“It looks like a bigger year this year, and with the crops that we know are out there, I think the opportunity for us to grow is in the grain side," said Tweed.
There have been several protests from numerous groups about the prospect of shipping crude through Churchill.
The Omnitrax release said consultations with First Nations, Métis and the provincial government were also factors in deciding to suspend plans.
Environmental groups are calling this a victory after after repeated calls to ban shipments of crude oil along the rail line because of safety and environmental concerns.
Tweed said the plan to halt shipments of crude oil is temporary and could change in the future.
"I still think, over time, it's something that may come back on the table," he said. "But for me, the immediate future, over the next two to five years, is going to be focusing on the grain handle."
First Nations welcome news, but still worried
Northerm Manitoba First Nations said they are thrilled to hear the news.
But MKO Grand Chief David Harper said his concern is the moment that shipping crude is back on the table.
"Is it ... permanent?" he said Friday. "How long is the suspension going to be? Because, the thing is, we've known there's been a lot of derailments lately, they've been recording a lot of derailments."