BRITISH COLUMBIA

Northern B.C. chiefs want to stop oil transport through province by rail

02/18/2015 02:35 EST | Updated 04/20/2015 05:59 EDT
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - First Nations leaders in northern British Columbia are threatening to block all attempts to move oil through the province by rail as they explore alternatives.

The chiefs say they will meet in the next 30 to 45 days to discuss a plan, adding the mode of oil transport is putting their communities and the environment at risk.

Five aboriginal leaders are leading the call to halt oil by rail as they cite the landmark Tsilhqot'in (SILL'-ko-teen) court decision, which they say reinforces the requirement for First Nations to be consulted over the railway in their territory.

Burns Lake Indian Band Chief Dan George says oil by rail is a serious threat and the chiefs feel obligated to explore safer alternatives.

The chiefs are also against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal but have agreed to consider Eagle Spirit Energy — a pipeline being pitched by an aboriginal businessman as an alternative.

The new proposal would link Alberta's oil sands to a tanker terminal on the B.C. coast and include a method to refine bitumen to a lighter product.