Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oil Train Derailments: How Many Wake-Up Calls do we Need?

If you need proof of the dangers of transporting oil by rail you need look no further than the spate of accidents that plagued oil trains in the past year. Recent incidence are a statistical outgrowth of the radically increased volume of trains bearing crude.

There have been a number of serious derailments and oil spills, however none were more terrible than the tragic events in Lac Megantic on July 6, 2013.

The growing volume of oil being moved by rail increases the risks from accidents. The equation is simple the more oil that is moved by rail the more risk we incur.

The events in Lac Megantic are but the tip of the iceberg. There have been numerous other oil train incidents in the last year including accidents in:

Virginia
Saskatchewan
New Brunswick
Alberta
British Columbia

These are but 5 of 88 vehicular oil transportation incidence that occurred in 2013. Last year there were at least 8 explosions of trains bearing crude. With 7 of the 10 worst US oil spills in the last decade occurring in the last 3 years there is a troubling trend emerging. More crude oil has spilled from train accidents in 2013 than in the previous four decades combined. Between 1975 to 2012, US rail spilled a combined 800,000 gallons of crude oil. This pales in comparison to the 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled in 2013.

Despite the seriousness of the oil train issue, the bigger problem concerns our dependence on fossil fuels and the emissions load this represents. The runaway train that decimated much of a small Quebec community is a metaphor for our current climate trajectory. Serious action on climate change demands that we substantially reduce our emissions and that will only happen if we decrease our dependence on hydrocarbons.

No matter the shipping medium, fossil fuels cannot be safely transported. Even when they arrive at their destination, they are anything but safe for the environment.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Articles
The End of Oil Trains?
The Environmental and Emotional Legacy of the Lac-M├ęgantic Disaster
Event - Worldwide Oil Train Week of Action
More Oil Being Shipped by Rail = More Risks
Curtailing the Transport of Oil by Pipe and Rail
Growing Opposition to Shipping Oil by Rail
Criminal Charges Leveled Against those Responsible for the Lac Megantic Disaster
The Rail Company that Decimated the Town of Lac Megantic Quebec Sold at Auction
MMA's Bankruptcy Protection is Unconscionable
Massive Oil Spill from Train Derailment in the Town of Lac Megantic
The Dangers of Transporting Fossil Fuels
Train Derails and Spills Oil in Lynchburg Virginia
Train Derails Spilling Oil in Saskatchewan
Oil Bearing Train Derails and Explodes in New Brunswick
Train Carrying Fossil Fuels Derails Causing an Explosion and Fire in Alberta
Train Derails Spilling Coal into a BC Waterway
Video - Train Carrying Oil Derails Illustrating the Dangers of Transporting Fossil Fuels
New Government Regulation of Oil Trains
Transport Canada's New Train Safety Rules for Transporting Fossil Fuels
CN Plans to Phase Out Rail Cars that Caused the Lac Megantic Disaster
Stop Old Trains from Transporting Oil
Tables - Rail Traffic in North America
Graphs - Oil Shipped by Rail

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