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Council of Canadians joins protest against tar sands tankers on the St. Lawrence River


Trainloads of bitumen are stored in these tanks just across the street from the river.
Photo: Trainloads of bitumen are stored in these tanks just across the street from the river.

The Council of Canadians joined a protest of about 2,000 people (some estimates are as high as 4,000 people) in Sorel-Tracy this afternoon in opposition to tar sands bitumen being transported on the St. Lawrence River. Calgary-based Suncor has been transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of bitumen by rail to this small community just east of Montreal, keeping it there in a massive storage facility across the road from the riverfront, then loading it onto massive tankers to ship it to be refined in Italy and the United States.

On September 24, the Minerva Gloria left this port loaded with 700,000 barrels of bitumen on board destined for the island of Sardinia. Then just three days ago the Genmar Daphne departed the port filled with bitumen bound for the Gulf of Mexico. Suncor plans to send 20-30 such tankers per year on the St. Lawrence River. La Presse has reported that dozens of municipalities along the river have said they are unprepared should there be a tanker spill and a committee of experts has found that only 5-20 per cent of an oil spill could be recovered from the water.


 The oil is then moved by pipeline under the street to the loading terminal on the water.

Photo: The oil is then moved by pipeline under the street to the loading terminal on the water.


Tankers are then loaded on the riverfront at this facility.

Photo: Tankers are then loaded on the riverfront at this facility.


Today thousands of people marched on this complex to protest these dangerous shipments on their river.

Photo: Today thousands of people marched on this complex to protest these dangerous shipments on their river.

The Council of Canadians has written a letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to ask them to intervene in this situation. That’s because these tar sands tankers pass through the nearby Lac Saint-Pierre, a body of water designated a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 2000.

For media coverage of today’s protest, please see these articles: Des citoyens et des élus manifestent contre le pétrole bitumineux à Sorel-Tracy (La Presse Canadienne), Nouvelle manifestation contre le transport du pétrole de l’Alberta (Journal de Montréal), Sorel-Tracy: marche contre le pétrole des sables bitumineux (Radio-Canada) and Nouvelle manifestation contre le transport du pétrole de l’Alberta (TVA Nouvelles).