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At least 66 ships stalled off Canada’s west coast due to CN rail blockades

A protester walks on the closed train tracks on the ninth day of the blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Friday Feb. 14, 2020. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

PortandTerminal.com, February 16, 2020

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – At least 66 shipping vessels are stalled in British Columbia’s waters, according to the maritime shipping industry, as rail blockades continue in support of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C.

READ: Canada grinding to a halt as rail shut-down and protests intensify. What’s going on?

The stalled vessels move commodities like consumer goods, food and raw materials between Canada and international destinations.

The Chamber of Shipping, along with the B.C. Maritime Employers Association and the B.C. Marine Terminal Operators Association, issued a joint statement Friday calling on the province and federal government to de-escalate tensions and remove the blockades.

Already there is concern that, as a result of the rail blockades, companies in Eastern Canada will run out of critical propane fuel needed to run their operations as early as Sunday (Feb. 16) . “We have just been told that we will run out of propane on Sunday,” said CEO Jean-Paul Deveau at Acadian Seaplant’s Halifax location.

The 66 vessels stalled off of Canada’s west coast move commodities like consumer goods, food and raw materials between Canada and international destinations. Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Chamber of Shipping of B.C., says Canadians will eventually notice consequences from the backlog.

“Our members rely on efficient and reliable rail service to ensure that Canadian import and export cargo arrive on schedule. As a critical component of the supply chain any disruption in service is detrimental to our reputation as a reliable gateway and service providers.”

Robert Wilds, Executive Director, BC Marine Terminal Operators Association

A prolonged shutdown could have devastating consequences for the country’s economy. CN moves more than $250 billion a year in goods across its transcontinental network.

“It will hit in the pocketbook, it will hit in necessary supplies for key industries and it will take a long time to recover,” Lewis-Manning said.

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