As reported by CBC News, between June 15 and 28, 2010, biodiesel tanker cars have been sent back and forth numerous times between Canada and the US by CN Rail but were never unloaded. Ostensibly the purpose of these mystery rides may be attributable to efforts to benefit from incentives offered by Natural Resources Canada’s $1.5-billion biodiesel program.
According to leaked internal CN documents, the rail company stood to make $2.6 million for the effort. Each shipment generated bills of lading, customs import and export forms that suggest total biodiesel shipments of 1,984 cars — which, taken together, would be valued in the hundreds of millions.
An Email from Teresa Edwards, CN’s manager of transportation for Port Huron/Sarnia stated ‘If we can get in more flips back and forth we will attempt to do so. Each move per car across the border is revenue generated for Sarnia/Port Huron.’ The email also says that this movement “has the potential to make a lot of money for CN so need everyone’s assistance to maximize the number of trips that we make and ensure that it all moves smooth.”
According to internal CN records, Train 503 shipped the biodiesel to Port Huron, Mich., from Sarnia, Ont.; Train 504 brought them back. These back and forth train journeys generated an entirely unnecessary carbon footprint.
The US biodiesel companies listed as customers were HeroBX and Northern Biodiesel. Northern Biodiesel did not answer calls from CBC, and it is unclear whether it is still operating as a business and HeroBX refused to respond.
CN records say the Canadian company that arranged the deal is Bioversel Trading Inc., which is being investigated by the Canada Border Services Agency on allegations it made false statements to avoid duties in shipping biodiesel to Romania and Italy. Officials are now investigating claims the companies were routing American-made biodiesel through Canada and falsifying its origin to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in European anti-dumping duties.