Preparations to start a bitumen shipping feasibility study is underway as one company examines whether it is possible or feasible to ship bitumen to Alaska from Fort McMurray using rail. The proposal was floated by G Seven Generations, and it involves the survey of potential routes when early spring hits using LIDAR flights. If the plan is not implemented before the foliage and leaves are thriving and in full bloom then these could block any aerial views and prevent the surveys from taking place by air. The proposal involves building a 2,400 kilometre railway that starts in Fort McMurray and ends up in Delta Junction. Once the bitumen reached Delta Junction the plan calls for the product to be transferred to the existing pipeline that reached the port of Valdez. From here the bitumen would be loaded onto tankers for other parts of the globe.
The feasibility study on sending bitumen by rail involves using heated rail cars to carry the bitumen, making any environmental cleanup a snap if there was a spill. CEO Matt Vickers told the media that spill cleanup “is going to be easy because it comes out like molasses.” Vickers has made a promise that aboriginal communities located along the route would get a 50% equity ownership, and a number of indigenous communities in Canada and the USA have voiced support for the plan. The governor of Alaska and a number of Alaskan mayors have also promised their support for the project. Vickers also pointed out “What rail will do that a pipeline can’t is it will immediately change the cost of living in the north. Every commodity you need can be shipped easier to the north.”