Environmental concerns raised about railway

Dear Editor:

The March 24 article in the Summerland Review noted that the tourist train burns recycled waste oil as a fuel in the 3716 steam locomotive because of the low cost of this fuel. 

The 3716 steam locomotive consumes 29.1 litres per kilometre and, according to the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, burns 103,225 litres per season. I am interested to know what constitutes “hazardous recycled waste oil.” 

The 3716 locomotive was originally built with a coal fired boiler, but now uses Bunker C fuel oil. 

I, as well as many other Summerland residents, have observed the black smoke billowing out of the 3716 Steam Locomotive when in operation, a clear indication that the fuel is not being burned efficiently. What is the toxicity of the air pollution generated by the 3716 locomotive when it burns this hazardous waste oil? 

I am concerned about the air, soil and water pollution generated by the Kettle Valley Steam Railway operation. I believe this railway operation has the potential to contaminate the Summerland main water reservoir and Trout Creek if there was ever a large fuel spill or fire at the railway work yards. 

Google Earth shows where the open water channel supplying water to the main Summerland water reservoir is located. Summerland’s drinking water is taken from Trout Creek, upstream and close to the railway yards. 

The water then flows in an open channel directly beside the railway yards and tracks to the main Summerland water reservoir, which is also in close proximity to the railway operation. A hazardous waste oil spill or fire could pollute our drinking water. 

Recall the fire in Kelowna at the Stewart Centre on Kirschner Road in August 2010 that caused large-scale pollution to the immediate area, Mill Creek and also caused the closure of some beaches on Okanagan Lake. Toxic waste contamination was the major focus of concern.

I sent Mayor Janice Perrino and council a letter on April 4, outlining some of my pollution concerns regarding the operation of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway. Mayor Perrino forwarded my letter to the Kettle Valley Steam Railway for their response. Mayor Perrino then forwarded to me the reply letter she received from the railway. The railway’s response letter, in my opinion, did not address any of the pollution concerns regarding the railway’s operation.

The railway must become open and transparent by providing them with all information about their operation. This would include the Material Safety Data Sheet information on all the fuels they burn, plans to fight fire, plans to contain an hazardous waste oil spill, what they do with their own generated waste oil, and what fuel they have burned in the past. Also, all inspection reports, including inspections made by the Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada and Transport Canada, should be made public.

The railway must not operate the locomotive until they burn a clean, non-polluting fuel. It must be relocated to reduce the risk of pollution to Summerland’s water system.

Paul Buddingh