Train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec

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onlinediscountanvils
Train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec

This is horrible. My thoughts are with those in Lac-Mégantic.

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2013/07/06/quebec-train-derai... town rocked by explosions, fire after derailment[/url]

Quote:
A train carrying crude oil derailed overnight in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec's Eastern Townships, sparking a major fire that led to the evacuation of 1,000 people from their homes.

Witnesses reported between four and six explosions overnight in the town of about 6,000 people. The derailment happened at about 1 a.m. ET, about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.

It is not yet known if there are any casualties, but several people have been reported missing and are feared dead.

Unionist

There are 60 people missing as of now. I can't even think about this.

 

jerrym

This accident is a complete disaster for Lac Megantic with the many evacuated and missing that raises serious safety questions about transporting oil by rail and to some extent even by pipelines. There are also environmental questions as some of the escaping oil is at risk of seeping into the lake, which is described as pristine in TV broadcasts.

jerrym

Tom Mulcair has just spoken out about the need to return rail safety to government control on CBC TV.

During a CBC interview with a rail safety expert, he noted that the federal government has taken railway safety inspection from Transport Canada and given to the railways. In BC, we have seen a large increase in accidents when BC Rail, a former Crown Corporation, was taken over by the private sector CN even in its first year of operation after the change of ownership. 

Quote:
 The frequency of derailments along the former BC Rail line is significantly higher since CN took over the former provincial railway last year, government statistics indicate.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/story.html?id=e0a65b25-4c05-4942-894a...

While saying safety is their number one priority, our railways have been focused on cutting costs by laying off workers, including those involved in safety, in order to increase profits. 

Quote:
The early results of restructuring efforts were clear, with CP delivering the strongest first quarter in its 132-year history. The railway reported a 53 per cent increase in earnings to $217 million, or $1.24 a diluted share, for the quarter from $142 million, or 82 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts had been expecting earnings of $1.22 a share, according to Bloomberg estimates. Revenue improved nine per cent to $1.5 billion despite carloads being essentially flat. CP's operating ratio - an important gauge of profitability measuring operating costs as a percentage of revenue - improved 4.3 percentage points year over year to an all-time low of 75.8 per cent. ...

At the same time, the railway is in the midst of cutting its workforce by as many as 6,000 workers by 2016 from the 19,500 employees it had when Harrison took over as CEO in June of last year as a result of a proxy battle waged by Bill Ack-man's Pershing Square Capital Management. To date, management said head count has been reduced by nearly 3,400.

Benoit Poirier, Desjardins Securities analyst, said he believed the reduction in head count so far represents $110 million in additional annual savings.

The results were, however, marred somewhat by a notable increase in the number of personal injuries and train accidents, including a high-profile crude train derailment in Minnesota in March that was followed by a second in April. Personal injuries per 200,000 employee hours increased 39 per cent year-over-year during the quarter to 1.6, while train accidents per million train miles increased 25 per cent to 1.98. That follows an 11 per cent increase in personal injuries in the fourth quarter, and a 20 per cent increase in train accidents per million train miles year over year.

Creel said there were two more reportable derailments than in 2012, though of a lesser severity.

"Operating safely has been, and always will be priority No. 1," he said. "Our focus is not going to change."

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Rail+rides+restructuring+record+pro...

 

 

jerrym

Railway unions have been warning about the risks of rail accidents as railways focus on profits over safety. 

Quote:
 Concerns are being raised that efforts to improve efficiency at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. are contributing to a series of accidents at the railroad in recent months, including two more this week.

The country’s second-largest railway is in the midst of a massive restructuring under its new chief executive, Hunter Harrison, aimed at righting the railway’s chronic underperformance.

Those efforts have already started to take hold, with CP delivering its best-ever first quarter result this year en route to a record year of earnings, management says.

http://business.financialpost.com/2013/05/21/unions-flag-safety-concerns...

 

The following article in the Transportation Law Journal summarizes the state of Canadian rail safety since the 1980s in its conclusion. 

Quote:
The deregulation of Canada's railway safety regulatory system, which occurred in the late 1980s, making the railway responsible for its own safety has not, and is not, adequately protecting the interests of the Canadian public, the Canadian environment, or Canadian railway workers. In order to restore the confidence of the Canadian public in the safety of railway transportation in Canada, Parliament must move to restore rail safety and effective enforcement power to Transport Canada, or an equivalent independent body. It is time for government to take back the safety obligations that have been granted to the railway industry; viz. self-regulation. 

http://www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/rsa-lsf/benedict.pdf

onlinediscountanvils

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/07/06/train-derails-in-quebec-sets-off-ex...

Quote:
QMI Agency learned that the train’s operators left the locomotive around 11:30 p.m. Friday and the train was supposed to remain immobile.

“The train got loose. Someone it got loose,” MMA’s vice-president Joseph McGonigle told QMI Agency on Saturday. He confirmed that there were no railways staff on board when it derailed and exploded.

He said the train’s black box could help investigators uncover why the train continued moving on the tracks without a conductor.

richardp

This is precisely why pipelines must be considered over rail transport for crude and/or bitumen.  Railways, by definition, will always pass through populated areas which pipelines can avoid. The simple fact is that our society runs on petroleum products, and pipelines are far safer than rail for raw materials transport.

jerrym

The simple fact is that while pipelines are safer than railways for transporting petroleum products, if either are left to enforce their own safety standards, accidents in both will increase dramatically, as they already have. Government regulation, in which revolving door switching between regulators and the regulated is prohibited, is necessary to minimize such accidents. This accident provides another reason, in addition to climate change, to transform our economy from fossil fuels to green renewable energy as quickly as possible

richardp

jerrym wrote:

The simple fact is that while pipelines are safer than railways for transporting petroleum products, if either are left to enforce their own safety standards, accidents in both will increase dramatically, as they already have. Government regulation, in which revolving door switching between regulators and the regulated is prohibited, is necessary to minimize such accidents. This accident provides another reason, in addition to climate change, to transform our economy from fossil fuels to green renewable energy as quickly as possible

 

Which would be great -- but it isn't going to happen anytime soon.  I'd be quite surpised if I lived to see a mass exodus from petroleum-based products to green energy in my lifetime (I'm in my 40s, BTW).  All we can do for now is try to extract, transport and process these materials in as safe a way as possible.  If more stringent oversight will help then it's a no-brainer.

jerrym

jerrym wrote:

richardp wrote:

I'd be quite surpised if I lived to see a mass exodus from petroleum-based products to green energy in my lifetime (I'm in my 40s, BTW).  All we can do for now is try to extract, transport and process these materials in as safe a way as possible.  If more stringent oversight will help then it's a no-brainer. 

So you think carrying on with the fossil fuel status quo is a no-brainer. The computer models that originally predicted ice-free Arctic summers by 2100 were too conservative, so the models were modified to 2050 as new data showed a faster rate of change and now there are predictions that this could happen as early as 2015. The reaction? Canada, the US, Russia, and China see this as a great opportunity to drill for more oil and natural gas. Shell sent a drill ship to the Arctic in 2012 but it had an accident before it could start drilling - a no-brainer.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has closed 1,000 schools due to flooding from climate change. With a population of 156 million in 2009, and 80% of its land mass subject to flooding as sea levels rise, it has joined several small island nations (the Maldives, Seychelles, Kirabati, and Nauru), who expect to disappear as sea levels rise, in initiating a International Criminal Court genocide lawsuit because of this. They do not expect to win due to the power of their opponents and so the Maldives are already negotiating with India and Australia to move its entire population to one of these countries as the Maldives are submerged. Kirabati has bought 6,000 hectares in Fiji in anticipation of having to move its population there. 

Hurricane Sandy resulted in the government spending $50.5 billion in spending as climate change changes weather patterns and rasises sea levels. Vancouver is now estimated to spend $9.5 billion on raising sea level walls by 2100 in order to counter sea rise and in addition New York City just released its $20 billion climate change resilience plan to raise its sea wall levels in order to prevent the damage that paralyzed the city and totally shut down its subway system during Sandy. Now think of the expenditures required to protect the world's coastal population (60% of the world's population lives with 50 km of a coast). Since the 1970s, droughts have become longer and more extreme worldwide, inclucing Canada and the US, but particularly in the tropics and subtropics.

http://thelittleislandthatcould.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/kiribati-reloca...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/01/29/hurricane-...

http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/sandy-and-the-record-arctic-sea-i...

http://www.retooling.ca/cgi/page.cgi?aid=243&_id=80&zine=show

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/05/2258731/adaptation-or-mitiga...

http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/impacts/signs/droughts.html

Quote:

What then does this mean for the world’s population? Just as the causation is unevenly distributed, the impact of climate change will most directly be felt by the poorest countries and peoples.24 With regard to access to water, a temperature rise of 2 degrees C will result in 1 to 4 billion people experiencing growing water shortages, especially in Africa, the Middle East, southern Europe and parts of South and Central America.25 The study cited does not consider the potential for adaptation and so highlights potential water stress. Land in constant drought will increase from 2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2050; land in extreme drought will increase from 1 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of the century.26

Concerning agriculture, higher latitude countries may in fact benefit from a moderate 2-3 degree C warming but tropical regions will definitely see declines in yield, given that many farmers are already operating close to critical temperature thresholds.27 Around 800 million people are already at risk of hunger, and malnutrition currently causes around 4 million deaths annually. A moderate 2-3 degree C warming would add a further 30-200 million people to those at risk of hunger.28

Climate change will also exacerbate the spread of diseases. The World Health Organisation estimates that since the 1970’s climate change is already responsible for more than 150,000 deaths annually, through the increased incidence of diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition. Again, these increases occur primarily in Africa and other developing regions. A mere 1 degree C increase in global temperature29 could double this figure to 300,000 deaths annually.30

http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=1774900&f...

With pine beetles now surviving winters in large numbers thanks to global warming, 80% of BC's pine forests have been destroyed and with it much of the province's forest industry. Now that the pine beetles have crossed the Rockies we can expect similar devastation to much of Canada's boreal forests and forest industry. Forest fire seasons  the forest-fire season in Alberta starts earlier and lasts longer because of climate change, further damaging our forests and neighbouring communities, such as Slave Lake in Alberta and Kelowna in BC. 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/pine-beetles-transf...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/dramatic-rise-in-fores...

Species are disappearing at 1,000 times to 10,000 times that found in the fossil record rate, in part due to climate change. As a result, half the species that exist today could be extinct by 2050. 

http://books.google.ca/books?id=UFVmiSAr-okC&pg=PA105&lpg=PA105&dq=speci...

Yes, we can keep on doing what we have been doing with a no-brainer attitude that we can't afford the cost of change despite the steadily mounting evidence of how extensive these costs are. 

 

 

jerrym

duplicate

lagatta

The story has made the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/07/quebec-rail-crash-death-toll

I disagree strongly with richardp. We must take transition action, climate action NOW!

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

 HUGE EXPLOSION FROM TRAIN DERAILMENT CARING CRUDE OIL TODAY. #OILSPILL #MONTREAL #QUEBEC #LAC-MEGANTIC #SOVSUMMER #TREAYSEVEN #STOPHARPER #STOPREDFORD #FRAUD #CORRUPT #LIES #NOFRACKING #NOTARSANDS #NOKXL #STOPKXL #DUFFYGATE #FEARLESSSUMMER #ALBERTAFLOODS #CALGARYFLOODS #SIKSIKA #BLACKFOOT #MORLEY #FrackOffAssholes #SENDHELP - #IDLENOMORE -via Michael Bean/Photo AP  "Pollution: Environmental workers are monitoring the plumes of smoke, as well as contamination of a river"  <a href=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357352/Breaking-news-Canadian-town-center-wiped-freight-train-carrying-hund" />

 HUGE EXPLOSION FROM TRAIN DERAILMENT CARING CRUDE OIL TODAY. #OILSPILL #MONTREAL #QUEBEC #LAC-MEGANTIC #SOVSUMMER #TREAYSEVEN #STOPHARPER #STOPREDFORD #FRAUD #CORRUPT #LIES #NOFRACKING #NOTARSANDS #NOKXL #STOPKXL #DUFFYGATE #FEARLESSSUMMER #ALBERTAFLOODS #CALGARYFLOODS #SIKSIKA #BLACKFOOT #MORLEY #FrackOffAssholes #SENDHELP - #IDLENOMORE -via Michael Bean/Photo AFP Getty Images  "Extensive: The damage caused by the runaway train extends over a couple of blocks in the town center"  <a href=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357352/Breaking-news-Canadian-town-center-wiped-freight-train-carrying-hundreds-tons-crude-oil-derails-explodes.html" />

 HUGE EXPLOSION FROM TRAIN DERAILMENT CARING CRUDE OIL TODAY. #OILSPILL #MONTREAL #QUEBEC #LAC-MEGANTIC #SOVSUMMER #TREAYSEVEN #STOPHARPER #STOPREDFORD #FRAUD #CORRUPT #LIES #NOFRACKING #NOTARSANDS #NOKXL #STOPKXL #DUFFYGATE #FEARLESSSUMMER #ALBERTAFLOODS #CALGARYFLOODS #SIKSIKA #BLACKFOOT #MORLEY #FrackOffAssholes #SENDHELP - #IDLENOMORE -via Michael Bean/Photo AP  "Wiped out: Piles of brick are all that remain of several buildings close to where the rail cars exploded"  <a href=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357352/Breaking-news-Canadian-town-center-wiped-freight-train-carrying-hund" /> HUGE EXPLOSION FROM TRAIN DERAILMENT CARING CRUDE OIL TODAY. #OILSPILL #MONTREAL #QUEBEC #LAC-MEGANTIC #SOVSUMMER #TREAYSEVEN #STOPHARPER #STOPREDFORD #FRAUD #CORRUPT #LIES #NOFRACKING #NOTARSANDS #NOKXL #STOPKXL #DUFFYGATE #FEARLESSSUMMER #ALBERTAFLOODS #CALGARYFLOODS #SIKSIKA #BLACKFOOT #MORLEY #FrackOffAssholes #SENDHELP - #IDLENOMORE -via Michael Bean/Photo AP  "Scorched: Burnt out cars and rubble can be seen as the railway cars continue to burn"  <a href=http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357352/Breaking-news-Canadian-town-center-wiped-freight-train-carrying-hundreds-tons-crude-oil-derails-explodes.html" />

Mikal Sergov

I guess Toronto has already been forgotten. Image is the deadly Sunrise Petroleum explosion from 2008.

 

richardp

lagatta wrote:

The story has made the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/07/quebec-rail-crash-death-toll

I disagree strongly with richardp. We must take transition action, climate action NOW!

I actually think we all agree here.  I'm just being realistic: with the amount of money behind the resource economy, no amount of protest is going to stop the extraction, processing and transport of petroleum products.  The only thing that will change that corporate juggernaut is a significant percentage drop in petroleum demand.  Until that happens, incidences like this are simply going to be noted as a "cost of doing business", and no amount of pie-in-the-sky dreaming will change that.

Wilf Day

I just heard an interview with a woman in Lac-Megantic who said they had never been worried about having a railway run though the middle of the downtown until about a year ago when big trains of up to 80 tank cars started coming through, and people started saying "what happens in a derailment?" 

This was a bankrupt little line bought up by an American corporate vulture who was running a shoestring operation, a disaster waiting to happen. The local MP, Harper's Quebec lieutenant Christian Paradis, certainly had heard all about it from local citizens; and he had lunch on Friday in the very Musi-Café that was incinerated 12 hours later.

Mulcair has been on the case right away, and rightfully so.

jerrym

Some troubling facts concerning Lac Megantic as reported on CBC:

- 5 dead, 40 missing in Lac Megantic

- the number of rail cars carrying oil has increased astronomically from 500 in 2009 to 140,000 for 2013 (estimated) - a 28,000% increase in 4 years - due to oil pipeline capacity having been reached and in order to move oil to refineries as Canada continues to rapidly expand its oil production

- Transport Canada which is responsible for rail (and airline) safety cut 30% under Conservatives

- railway safety self-regulation has steadily expanded under several governments and rail accident rates increased dramatically due to conflict of interest between profits and safety

- up to 100,000 barrels of oil have contaminated nearby Chaudiere River from accident

 

Geoff

I feel horrible about what happened and the lives this disaster has destroyed, so I don't mean to be indelicate.  However, I believe an uncomfortable question needs to be asked.  Had the train been carrying wind turbines instead of oil, how different would the outcome of the crash have been?  Something for the anti-wind lobby to consider. 

Caissa

The oil was destined for the refinery here in Saint John. The mayor and local industry have been lobbying for a west-east pipeline terminating in Saint John.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2013/07/08/nb-train-derailment-oil-pipeline.html

jerrym

The rapid growth in oil transport by rail has a corporation looking at building a rail line through northern BC to transport oil from Valdez Alaska to Asia. This is being done quietly in order not to arouse fears amongst the public. People need to start demanding transparency about this, especially after the Lac Megantic accident and the turning over of rail safety to the railways by our governments.

Quote:
Meanwhile, a new rail company has its sights firmly set on B.C. for oil transport. A group of Canadian businessmen calling itself Generating for Seven Generations (G7G) has proposed a 2,400-kilometre rail line that could move up to five million barrels of oil a day from Fort McMurray, Alta., to the port of Valdez, Alaska by way of northern B.C. and the Yukon. The oil would then be shipped to Asia.

A feasibility study is underway for G7G's proposed Unifying Nations Railway Company, or UNRailCo, said G7G CEO Matt Vickers, adding the project is poised to go ahead regardless of whether Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline is approved.

"It's going to be viable and feasible regardless of any and all pipelines," said Vickers, noting the project directors have been purposefully "flying under the radar" until feasibility studies have been completed and a route has been finalized.

Oil transfer by rail as a whole has largely been off the public's radar until now, said Keith Stewart [climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada]. He said he hopes the Lac-Magentic crash will alert Canadians to the trend and encourage them to insist the federal government enforce existing regulations.

"I think what we have to do is make sure that this doesn't happen again," he said.

Rail-transport policy expert Avrom Shtern, who also serves as spokesman for the Montrealbased Green Coalition, echoed the sentiment.

"Every mode (of transportation) has its nightmare scenarios. This one is it for the railways," he said. "This (accident) was absolutely the perfect storm."

The federal regulations and standards governing rail operations in Canada are complex and numerous. Companies such as Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the railway involved in the Lac-Magentic crash, are responsible for ensuring the safety of their rail lines, equipment and operations. This includes inspection, testing and maintenance programs in accordance with regulatory requirements. When a company is transporting dangerous goods such as crude oil, the rules - at least on paper - get even stricter.

The brakes and safety system on a train carrying hazardous materials must be inspected before and during every trip, for example. Employees must be regularly certified by the federal government, and no conductor can work for more than 12 hours straight, no matter what the train is carrying. Transport Canada's oversight role requires it to monitor railway companies for compliance with these rules, in addition to conducting audits, inspections and investigations.

If a company fails to comply or has an accident, the government is also responsible for imposing fines and other sanctions.

That's where the problems begin, according to Shtern.

"I think the government, especially after austerity cuts, relies more and more on the industry to police itself. It's unacceptable. You can't just write rules and expect the (train companies) to police themselves. "I think it's high time the government came back into the game and reined them in. They're not doing their job."

 

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/production+exceeds+pipeline+capacity+ex...

jerrym

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, which is a subsidiary of the railway holding company Rail World Inc., was the railway involved in the Lac Megantic accident. Rail World Inc.'s "purpose is to promote rail industry privatization by bringing together government bodies wishing to sell their stakes with investment capital and management skills" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_World,_Inc.). The record of privatization and anti-unionism of this firm fits hand-in-hand with this accident. 

Edward Burkhardt, who is president and CEO of Rail World Inc., has been involved in the running of privatized or bankrupt railways in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Estonia and Poland, running them on the cheap. 

Quote:
 Burkhardt's privatization approach spread to deals with investment firms to pick up government-run railroads in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia, according to media reports at the time. ...

His Rail World purchased the assets of what became the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway out of bankruptcy in 2003. The regional rail company has 510 route miles of track in Maine, Vermont and Quebec, and employs about 170 people, according to the company's website. It runs about 15 trains daily, and has a fleet of 26 locomotives.

The railway has had eight incidents of hazardous material spills reported since February 2005, including instances of spilled diesel, gas oil, sulfur and other materials, according to data compiled by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/07/us-train-railroad-profile-idUS...

 

Quote:
Burkhardt's career in the industry includes a 12-year stint as president of a railroad that broke convention by shunning unions, reinvesting profit rather than paying dividends to investors and expanding internationally. 

Burkhardt helped to found Wisconsin Central railroad in 1987 on a business model that took advantage of the 1980 law that deregulated the U.S. rail industry, according to Tribune articles.

Complaints from railway unions slowed the railroad's start and caused early financial troubles, but the company quickly emerged as a profitable enterprise, according to reports.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-rail-world-president-201...

 

 

 

 

 

jerrym

I know a little bit about railways as my grandfather and father worked for their entire lives on the railway and my first job was working on the railway.  The kind of tanker rail cars used to transport this oil significantly increased the rapidly growing risk of an accident as rail transport of oil has expanded from 500 to  140,000 cars since 2009.

Quote:
 

Thousands of new tanker cars have been ordered by North American railways.

Compounding the risk, Stewart added, is the fact that many rail companies move oil in cars known as "DOT-111" tankers.

These cars, most commonly used to transport crude oil in Canada, have a history of puncturing during

accidents. The federal Transportation Safety Board has said repeatedly that they are prone to spill their contents during derailments and other impacts, and a U.S. Transportation and Safety Board investigation into a 2009 CN derailment and fire concluded that the tankers should be fitted with head shields, tank jackets and other safety measures to mitigate against disaster. It's unclear if any of those recommendations were implemented. Right now, only a small amount of oil is moved through B.C. by rail, said Stewart, mostly through the Interior and down to California. He said correspondence between environmental groups and several rail companies has revealed many are considering taking oil to the B.C. coast. ...

Approximately 230,000 barrels (more than 20 million litres) of oil are moved by rail in North America every day, according to the Railway Association of Canada.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/production+exceeds+pipeline+capacity+ex...

knownothing knownothing's picture
jerrym

richardp wrote:

lagatta wrote:

The story has made the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/07/quebec-rail-crash-death-toll

I disagree strongly with richardp. We must take transition action, climate action NOW!

I actually think we all agree here.  I'm just being realistic: with the amount of money behind the resource economy, no amount of protest is going to stop the extraction, processing and transport of petroleum products.  The only thing that will change that corporate juggernaut is a significant percentage drop in petroleum demand.  Until that happens, incidences like this are simply going to be noted as a "cost of doing business", and no amount of pie-in-the-sky dreaming will change that.

I have no illusions about how difficult bringing change in this area will be. However, I have to disagree with the statement that "The only thing that will change that corporate juggernaut is a significant percentage drop in petroleum demand." If people in the 15th century had assumed changing the system was impossible, we could still be living in feudalism. If people in the colonies of the world's empires had taken this approach in the 18th, 19th and 20th century, North and South America, Ireland, and much of Africa and Asia would still be colonies of various empires. 

In May 2013, people in 436 cities in 52 countries protested against Monsanto and GMO crops and foods. Within two weeks two US states passed GM food labeling legislation and 20 others are now considering it. GM labeling is already mandatory in the European Union because of public pressure. 

Waiting for the corporations to change is like waiting for Godot. He ain't coming. This is a long-term process. On the other hand, an uninhabitable planet is forever.

Change is already occurring. 

Quote:
China was responsible for almost one-fifth of total global investment, spending $52 billion on renewable energy last year. According to China’s 12th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development (2011-2015), the country will spend $473.1 billion on clean energy investments over the next five years. China’s goal is to have 20 percent of its total energy demand sourced from renewable energy by 2020. ... Global investment in renewable energy reached a record $257 billion in 2011, a 17 percent increase from the amount invested in 2010.
(http://www.forbes.com/sites/jackperkowski/2012/07/27/china-leads-the-wor...)

Quote:
The countries of the European Union are the number two global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming. ... EU leaders reached agreement in principle in March 2007 that 20 percent of the bloc's final energy consumption should be produced from renewable energy sources and by 2020 as part of its drive to cut emissions of carbon dioxide.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_the_European_Union)

On the other hand, North America is slipping behind.

Quote:
Green investments in China in 2012 rose 20% to $65 billion while they fell 37% in the U.S. to just under $36 billion.
(http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/china-overtakes-u-lead-green...)

However, the Americans are at least spending enough money to rank number 2 in terms of individual countries' green energy spending. On the other hand, Canada's resource-based, fossil fuel economy is in danger of becoming a fossil both economically and environmentally. 

Is this enough spending and regulation to solve the problem? No. However, the issue is starting to be addressed in some countries and without further public pressure around the world, we do not have any chance of solving this problem. 

 

 

 

jerrym

Below is a video of Tom Mulcair's CTV comments on the accident.

http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/mulcair-slams-harper-over-lac-megantic-blames...

I thought his comments were done in a respectful and sensitive manner as he stated his first thoughts were with the families of Lac Megantic and then raised the questions of government cuts to transport safety and self-regulation of safety by the railways in a moderate tone of voice. Leave it to the MSM to use the comments of the Cons and Liberals as the basis for the headlines and articles about his comments.  

richardp

jerrym wrote:

Is this enough spending and regulation to solve the problem? No. However, the issue is starting to be addressed in some countries and without further public pressure around the world, we do not have any chance of solving this problem. 

It amounts to lip service as long as everyone still jumps in their cars, trucks, SUVs, busses, airliners, go on cruises ... buy goods made of plastic ... 

I admire your optimism but I see it as naive.

 

BTW interesting article in the Gazette:

 

http://www.montrealgazette.com/Mégantic+Montreal+Maine+Atlantic+Railway+chairman+certain+train+that+exploded+tampered+with/8631093/story.html

 

It will be tremendously interesting to see what comes out of any investigations.

jerrym

There are now 13 confirmed dead and an estimated 50 missing because of the Lac Megantic accident. DNA will have to be used to identify many people as their bodies are burned beyond recognition. 

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/a9gantic+explosion/8625646/story.html

jerrym

richardp wrote:

jerrym wrote:

Is this enough spending and regulation to solve the problem? No. However, the issue is starting to be addressed in some countries and without further public pressure around the world, we do not have any chance of solving this problem. 

It amounts to lip service as long as everyone still jumps in their cars, trucks, SUVs, busses, airliners, go on cruises ... buy goods made of plastic ... 

I admire your optimism but I see it as naive.

Saying nothing can be done is a great excuse for doing nothing. Tell it to your grandchildren. (When Prime Minister Jan Smuts was asked in 1924 what could be done about the terrible conditions faced by Black South Africans his answer was "Nothing").  

lagatta

Yes, and the transition out of oil, and carcentric society, won't be made by some kind of angels with clean hands. I'm more familiar with what is going on in Europe, but many current and former autoworkers are writing cogent critiques of carcentric planning; and after all, it will take massive investment in public transport to emerge from that disaster.

I'm also very annoyed by people who say, oh your bicycle still pollutes because it was made in a factory (mine was made in a factory at least 40 years ago, and I see lots of bicycles of similar vintage around here) or that Internet pollutes (thanks, I know that) or that my (small) computer is made of plastic and other polluting compounds. Yes, we have to be aware of that, and I am; I recycle everything I can and buy second-hand when it is up to my professional needs, but I don't have a shadow of the footprint of households in huge houses with huge unused lawns (if only they gardened them!) and three cars, and some fancy motorized toys.

We aren't saints, and can't be under capitalism, but we can make choices, and mobilize to make the needed change.

Unionist

Given the myriad of different hazardous materials that pass unnoticed by train through our populated areas, big and small, I find the media's focus on how oil should be moved (and this thread's diversion into a very important but totally unrelated issue) to be disturbing.

The more important focus, in my opinion, and once the horror of the human loss at Lac-Mégantic has been fully understood and dealt with, is: 1) Why do we allow trains, owned and operated for profit by largely U.S. privateers, to haul anything they please through areas where we work and live? 2) When will some political party stand up to the private transportation multinationals and their enablers (the Liberals and Conservatives) and boldly say:

"The deregulation of transportation, culminating in the offloading of safety management from government to the companies themselves, is officially OVER. The minute we're elected, it shall be the people who decide, dictate, inspect, and enforce. Not the profiteers."

Hard to imagine, isn't it? Why would anyone vote for a party that says, if you can't haul it safely to our standards, you will not haul at all? Buncha radical crazies, that would be.

 

RooStates

I have enjoyed reading the responses.

I want to extend my sympathies to the families and friends of those affected.

I want several investigations to take place.  The indicent investigation to find out why this individual event occurred.  An inquiry based on this investigation can look at what needs to change to prevent a similar event from occurring with the existing system.

Another investigation into the oil cars needs to be handled independently of the accident.  It needs to be determined if the current method should be maintained or terminated.

Without understanding the actual cause, responsibility for this incident rests with the railway.  There can be no act of god excuse for what occurred.  The company is responsible for all costs inccurred by the residents of the community who lost jobs / houses / infrastructure (library) and loss of enjoyment of any enviromental damage caused to the waterways.  The company also needs to compensate the fire department for loss of equipment due to the event or used up in fighting the event.  This also goes to compensating out of town fire departments for their assistance.

The company is also responsible for injuries and loss of life.  If no heirs can be found, then the community will be known as the estate since they lost their friend(s).

Pierre C yr

Capitalism and its self regulating mechanisms 2 days after Lac Megantic:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOwPYr38A1c&feature=player_embedded

 

Nope we cant have that hassle of gov red tape... 

lagatta

Unionist, you are right and the relevant trade unions have been among those criticising this deregulation for many years. Ironic perhaps that the "Public Safety" Minister has resigned...

I was just getting mightily annoyed as this disaster used as a way of getting the pipeline accepted...

MegB

Rail safety issues have been an issue with rail workers for a long time.

http://rabble.ca/news/2012/03/canadian-rail-safety-peril

DaveW

you were ahead of the curve...

NDPP

"ezralevant is tweeting BS insinuations about INM and DOL [Idle No More and Defenders of the Land] being connected to the Quebec train derailment."

https://twitter.com/RussDiabo/status/354051947315216384

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

scumbag

NDPP

omit

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

bekayne
kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Thx Bekayne

Great article and even better discussion by railroaders. 

Unfortunately for the people affected it is highly likely that this corporation is both under insured and owned by an asset less holding company.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

This is water scooped out of the La Chaudiere River about 2 kms down from ‪#‎Lac‬ Megantic. pic.twitter.com/2qfrJ1nD7D

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Burkhardt, the rail company owner, threw one of his employees under the bus today in front of the media...obviously, it's about getting the company off of the hook for any liability.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/10/quebec-train-crash-b...

Aristotleded24

One also has to look at just how long the trains have become, presumably to save money on not having to have as many engineers on staff. I'm sure we've all seen these long trains rolling through our communities. It stands to reason that the long trains would be more dangerous and more likely to derail just owing to the basic laws of physics, regardless of what's contained therein.

There's other issues with the length of trains as well. Consider the amount of time spent waiting at a railway crossing, and ask yourself if that impacts emergency vehicle response times along major routes. And I know in Winnipeg we have to build at least 2 underpasses at railway intersections because of traffic congestion issues, paid for by, guess who, taxpayers. Are there other impacts with regards to having to build underpasses for the rail cars?

Bottom line: you want to go after the safety issue, look at the length of these trains. Making them smaller will allevieate many of the safety concerns.

jas

I find it interesting that richardp, a brand new poster here, was so eager to echo the oil industry's spin on this event toward the pipeline agenda -- right off the bat. That's the first thing he could think of.

The fatalistic allusions to "realism" vs. "naivete" and "the simple facts" about our dependence on oil sounds much more like petrol and pipeline marketing than it does an informed and progressive vision.

No, richardp. As a society, we have choices. This event does not point us to more pipelines. It points us to smarter energy and moving beyond fossil fuels. You may have a different personal opinion, informed by your own personal dependence on fossil fuels. It is not "reality" nor is it "the simple facts." It is probably not even a majority opinion anymore. So take your sad-sack vision of the future and peddle it somewhere else.

quizzical

Aristotleded24 wrote:
Bottom line: you want to go after the safety issue, look at the length of these trains. Making them smaller will allevieate many of the safety concerns.

we've got between 20 and 30 CN trains going through here a day. at least 1 time per week  there's a 'pull apart'. imv the trains are too long and there's a slight grade where they all seem to disconnect  at. anyway i've never seen or heard of so many trains  with cars becoming unhooked from one another.

the railway crossings close to where they pull apart are a mess these days too. don't know if they're a reason but the gradient is all off compared to the way they used to be. i moved back here 2.5 years ago and was blown away by the state of the crossings, the length of the trains and now the endless pull aparts. can't imagine if the brakes failed when the cars pulled apart

DaveW

rail trend not likely to slow down:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/07/09/quebec-tragedy-unlikely-slow-oil-shipments-via-rail/KGKrxeEe84Rixz3R47DFvJ/story.html

The tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, has focused attention on the rapidly increasing use of rail to transport oil. Just five years ago, fewer than 10,000 carloads of crude were carried by rail; last year, nearly 234,000 carloads were transported, according to the American Association of Railroads, a trade group.

At approximately 30,000 gallons per car, that means about 7 billion gallons of crude oil are shipped around the country. In a recent report, Raymond James & Associates Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla., consulting firm, estimated that the volume of crude shipped by rail could increase by 150 percent over the next two to three years in the United States.

Meanwhile, the number of serious train accidents in the United States has declined significantly, from 867 in 2008 to 552 last year. Holly Arthur, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Railroads, said 2012 was the safest year ever for the railway industry.

But environmentalists, who have been mobilizing against the controversial drilling method known as “fracking” used in North Dakota and elsewhere, said the surge in oil moving by rail through communities made Lac-Megantic a tragedy waiting to happen.

 

KenS

Of course the railroad industry is going to point to their general improved safety record.

But one thing that is certain to happen is a big jump in insurance for shipping oil by rail.

Shipping North Dakota shale oil east is pretty convoluted. After the substantial time lag for existing contract commitments to move through to the refineries, we'll see what happens. Some of the railroads that originate or unload the trains were already cautious about investing in the ramp-ups required for capacity to keep increasing.

The derailed train was enroute to the New Brunswick Irving refinery [and the same route has taken it to the closing refinery in Nova Scotia]. It would appear that Irving did not want to invest in rail car unloading, which meant that it had to come in by ship like the rest of their crude input. See what I mean by 'convoluted'?

Since the oil had to go to tidewater, the shortest route was bringing it to Maine, for a short hop.

With MMA out of the picture, everything else becomes even more convoluted. Irving probably will stop bringing it from North Dakota.

With the added uncertainty, do you see already gun-shy companies putting money into long term investments for loading and unloading oil to/from rail cars?

Buddy Kat

In light of all the disasters here in Canada and the fact that we have an illegal govt forcing deregulation and ripping up of environmental protections ..it’s probably best for people to do their own assessments..

 

One of these tools is toxic vapor cloud software  which allows you to use local data like environment Canada wind speed and direction info and pipe it in for your local area and pipe in the toxic vapor ..ie methane or chlorine etc …litterly thousands of chemicals ..the software will then predict your risk  given your distance and wind direction.

 

But beware …the realization that your govt has considered your life , health and safety as an industrial nuisance is too much to bare for some people. So be aware., that can have an affect on your view and trust of govt and industry.

 

Another sad part is industry has plenty of state of the art programs that plug straight into satellites for even more precise data and even terrain mapping etc and details that would make your head spin…That they know the danger they place us in and that they get a govt stamp of approval is even  more alarming.

 

 

Get your CAMEO ALOHA software here from the EPA and do it quick as big brother has  a habit of killing the links .

 

http://www.epa.gov/osweroe1/content/cameo/aloha.htm

DaveW

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