EDMONTON — A company wants to build a facility to store and service up to 850 rail cars near Lamont, Alta., a few kilometres north of Elk Island National Park.
Alberta Midland Railway Terminal Ltd. says the facility would help rail shippers that service an area called the Industrial Heartland — the province's largest hydrocarbon processing region.
A report filed by the company to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency says the $34 million project could begin operating by the second-quarter of 2017.
The proposal says the rail cars would be mainly empty tankers used to haul dangerous goods such as fuel, oil and natural gas liquids as well as empty grain hopper cars.
Once completed, the facility and its 21 operating and storage tracks would be run by Canadian Northern Plains Rail Services.
The federal agency says it is seeking written comments from the public by March 7 on whether to conduct an environmental assessment of the project.
Shawn Smith, president of Canadian Northern, said the facility is needed because the Industrial Heartland is growing and the rail cars are now stored in areas across Alberta.
"This is being driven by growth plans that customers have," Smith said Thursday.
Construction could begin this spring if Lamont County approves the project and it doesn't require a full federal environmental assessment, he said.
Earlier this month the Alberta government announced a program to provide $500 million in royalty credits to the petrochemical sector to encourage more value-added products.
Much of the industry is located in the region near Lamont.
Smith said people involved in the storage facility proposal believe that bolstering rail service will be key.
"We think Alberta's Industrial Heartland is fantastic opportunity for economic development in our region and one of the key tenets to growth and success in the heartland is transportation," he said. "Rail transportation is critical as the area grows."