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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Columbia Basin, BNSF begin unit train moves for Washington state canola oil producer


The first unit train carrying canola seed for Pacific Coast Canola (PCC) arrived at the company's Warden, Wash., facility yesterday, according to the Columbia Basin Railroad (CBRR).

The initial unit train marks the beginning of a cooperative effort between PCC, CBRR, BNSF Railway Co. and the Port of Warden, CBRR officials said in a press release. The train was loaded at a Cenex Harvest States facility in Milton, N.D., then traveled 1,345 miles to Warden.

PCC's canola crushing and oil refining facility at the Washington state port is the first and only commercial-scale canola seed crushing operation west of the Rocky Mountains, and one of only two canola processing plants in North America using "expeller-press" technology, CBRR officials said. The plant has a daily processing capacity of 1,100 metric tons of canola seed, which represents about 40 million gallons of canola oil and 240,500 U.S. tons of canola meal produced per year, they said.

This first unit train shipment is the culmination of efforts that began in 2005, when a port site on the CBRR's line was identified for a bio-diesel facility. The project evolved into a canola seed crushing plant, which began producing canola oil in January, but since has ramped up production, CBRR officials said. The 2013 canola seed crop began to be shipped in September, and volumes by rail since have steadily increased through November, they said.

"This initial unit train of canola seed adds to the many trains that the Columbia Basin Railroad hauls to/from Washington state," said CBRR President Brig Temple.

PCC leases track from CBRR to accommodate the unloading of up to 110-car trains and has built several long rail sidings in Warden.

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