Has the Lac-Mégantic tragedy made you question the safety of shipping oil by rail?


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Has the Lac-Mégantic tragedy made you question the safety of shipping oil by rail?


  2. Lac-Megantic, Quebec (CNN) — Canadian authorities
    have found evidence that a criminal act may have led to a train crash in
    Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed at least 15 people, provincial police
    Capt. Michel Forget said Tuesday.

    There have been many
    questions about the crash and explosion that wiped out a swath of the
    town 130 miles east of Montreal. As of Tuesday evening, 35 people were
    still missing, Forget said.

    Authorities offered no further details about the case but said it was not caused by terrorism.

    “I will not speculate on the elements that we have recovered,” Forget told reporters.

  3. Be safe, the oil is coming out regardless, and it’s going to be shipped using pipeline, rail, truck or water-borne tankers.

  4. Rail is basically as safe as it gets and people, it only transports 2% of all oil so get with it.

    • Right! Because people ALWAYS get incinerated when a pipeline leaks! Expect more of the same if we continue to ship this product in the quantities that we are now seeing via rail.

    • There are too many wild card safety issues with railways, which are difficult to control. Lac Megantic shows this very clearly. Lesser volume but higher risk.

  5. can’t have a pipeline that goes through unpopulated area because it might leak onto wilderness, and kill a few birds and fish, but sure, ship it through every single major city in the country and then get upset when it destroys a small town?

    • Because the oil leaking in the wilderness on all those poor fish and animals isn’t a bad thing? You realize that basically ruins the ecosystem where the oil spill happens right? You’d be lucky to ever be able to take a sip from a lake contaminated with oil. I personally think oil spilling in populated areas is better (sucks for the people but oh well) because it would be reported and hopefully fixed quicker, urban areas are more likely to have asphalt/cement/concrete which would be easier to clean up oil on. We’re running out of wilderness but we’ll never run out of urbanized areas.

  6. This poll shows that only half of the English Canadians consider better safety regulations. Market first, people after.

    • When all else fails, make up more regulations!! If current plethora of rules and regulations were ineffective, how do you figure adding more will help?

      • I guess the only remaining thing is to have the police press charges and send some high ranking people in the industry to the slammer.

        Been there, done that. Regs help but the law bites!

  7. It merely highlights the danger in transporting oil. Statistically, pipelines spill 0.88 parts per million of oil shipped while railways only spill 0.38. However, if the known deficiencies in CTC-111 type rail cars were fixed, rail transport would be even safer. There is an issue with location in that railways, in some cases, pass through more populous areas. The safety of the rail cars is typical of regulatory issues where cost is used as a shield against safety and regulators go soft on known safety issues based on cost arguments. MMA’s one man engineer/brakeman/conductor ‘crew’ falls into the same camp. Similarly, relocation of rail away from populous areas is merely a cost versus safety issue that’s been grossly apparent since Mississauga, for which nothing has been done. Regardless of transport method, spill recovery (recovery being somewhat of a misnomer) recovers about 30% of what is spilled. Cleanup removes about 20% more. Crude oil is very persistent (for example, 500 times more persistent than gasoline); in porous geology it persists for more than 100 years. If it enters a water table, the loading on water wells appears as a more or less constant level of contamination that persists for decades. The biggest issue here is what deceivers politicians and officials can be when they make unsupportable statements about levels of safety and success of recovery.

  8. The better question is ‘has it make you question the way safety is managed?’. We’ll probably never know the truth. The TSB, which is responsible for ensuring safety, is also doing the investigation, although it seems probable that the TSB itself could be implicated, while the minister has parachuted his own representative into the investigation team, removing any vestige of independence The obfuscation has already begun when the TSB chair said she has no idea how MMA’s safety record compares to other Canadian railroads – given the high profile of this event, she seems remarkably uninformed about what should be in the TSB’s wheelhouse.

    • The TSB does not “ensure safety”. They merely investigate and report. The safety aspect relies on Regulations written by the Departments and promulgated by the government through Parliament.

      Lax enforcement of whatever has been passed is the key. That can be very dicey for Departments who wish to continue a good relationship with the Government and indeed, the industry.

  9. This was a tragedy. Of that there is now doubt. But imagine the horror if it has been sulphuric acid or chlorine? Something that could have caused the loss of life of countless others. The issue here is not the product. The product could have been far worse than oil. The issue here must focus on rail safety.

  10. This simply proves that pipelines are better, safer and cheaper.

    • Usually, but not always. Pipeline routes are generally chosen to avoid built-up areas wherever possible. Railways, unfortunately, generally run through the center of towns which have grown up around them. However towns have also grown up around pipelines, allowed by local governments.

      In ranking, the most dangerous pipelines are
      (1) LPG pipelines carrying propane, butane, etc. Product is heavier than air and moving along the ground until it finds an ignition source and explodes violently.

      (2) Natural gas pipelines carrying methane. Product is lighter than air, but can explode violently when ruptured and sparked, but burn out cleanly.

      (3) Crude oil pipelines, Usually carrying products which are liquid at normal atmospheric pressure. They leak a lot of petroleum guck, but do not always catch fire and explode. The problem is mainly pollution.

      If I had a choice of what ruptures in my back yard, I think I would prefer an oil pipeline. Messy, but not as dangerous, usually.

      So there is no easy generalization on safety.

  11. If you are shipping an extremely volatile product, you should always make certain that your product is shipped safely or don’t ship it at all. The oil industry is negligent in that it requires mass transportation on whatever level and so should participate in the transport of oil in a safe manner.

  12. New rules mean squat if they are not followed.

    • Amen. But the players don’t always follow the rules, relying on their “interpretation” of the rules. to their (usually commercial) advantage.

  13. It is easy to see that PIPELINES should be in place. They are not. Put them is place. Any other option is naive unless it is to refine the OIL at its source.

    • Bad choice. Refiners will still have to transport a less messy but equally hazardous to market across the country. Risk assessment absolutely necessary.

  14. Human lives were lost, and the existing regulatory framework did not prevent that from happening. So it is automatically true that something was wrong. The only question is whether we need regulations that demand more, or better enforcement of the regulations we already have.

    • Better enforcement, the bane of industry.

  15. At the end of my military career (1985), as part of the Mapping and Charting Establishment, in making what were called “Military City Maps” – used for disasters and upon which pipelines, shut-off valves and the like were marked, I worked on the maps for Sarnia. In trying to obtain information about shut-off valves and pipe routes, we discovered that the companies did not know anything. They had no idea of where their pipes were routed, or the locations of any shut off valves. Finally we asked “What would you do if there was a fire?” the answer was “Run like Hell!”.