A CBC News investigation has uncovered a cross-border mystery involving unexplained shipments of biodiesel tanker cars that were sent back and forth numerous times between Canada and the U.S. by CN Rail but were never unloaded.
According to leaked internal CN documents, the rail company stood to make $2.6 million for the effort…
Here comes the papier-mâché excuse:
“CN received shipping directions from the customer, which, under law, it has an obligation to meet,” CN Rail spokesman Mark Hallman said last week. “CN discharged its obligations with respect to those movements in strict compliance with its obligations as a common carrier, and was compensated accordingly.”
When asked whether CN wasn’t helping to do something strange, Hallman responded: “CN met its obligations as a common carrier and we have no further comment.”
CN employees, although guarded, were more candid…“In 25 years, I’d never done anything like it,” one railway worker told CBC News on the condition he not be named for fear he might be fired. “The clerk told me it was some kind of money grab. We just did what we were told…”
“This unit train will move at least once daily to Port Huron starting on Tuesday, June 18,” said an email written by Teresa Edwards, CN’s manager of transportation for Port Huron/Sarnia.
It will “clear customs and return to Sarnia. 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.
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.
The U.S. biodiesel companies listed as customers were HeroBX and Northern Biodiesel. Northern Biodiesel did not answer calls, and it is unclear whether it is still operating as a business. CBC News called HeroBX repeatedly, but it has refused to respond…
There is a portion of North American commerce completely absorbed in shuffling papers – with the complicity of local, regional and national bureaucrats – which produces a profit solely on the basis of manipulation. Entirely antithetical to the intent of law, commerce and justice. But, then, that doesn’t matter if it turns a profit, eh?