Train derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec

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Sandy Dillon

Unionist wrote:

Sandy Dillon wrote:

That one engineer probably drove that train all the way from Dakota where it was loaded. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THE GD WORD FATIGUE?

I don't think so, Sandy.

Ignoring stops, crew changes, slow track speed areas, etc., it would take at least 29 continuous hours at the top speed of 100 km/hour to reach Lac-Mégantic from (say) Bismarck. The maximum allowed on-duty time for a locomotive engineer in road service is 12 hours, after which s/he must take at least an 8 hours continuous break.

That doesn't mean the engineer wasn't fatigued. Maybe he was. The treatment for fatigue is to find a bed and go to sleep. That's exactly what he did, and what every single train crew member does between shifts.

Quote:
With 2 engineers they could have spelled each other and when it came time to stop for the night not being as fatigued as if one man had to do all the driving.

No.

Two-person crews (which are the norm in 99.9% of cases) consist of an engineer and a conductor. In some cases, it may be two engineers. The engineer sits on the right of the cab and operates the train. The conductor sits on the left and calls out signals, manages various on-ground situations, etc. - but s/he DOES NOT DRIVE THE TRAIN. One driver. No sharing.

Quote:
They could have both set the brakes properly before leaving the site.

That point is correct. It's easier for two workers to climb up on individual cars and apply handbrakes than for just one. That task can be shared. But we still don't know how many handbrakes were actually set (Burkhardt said the engineer said 11, but Burkhardt doesn't believe him) or whether a "push-pull" test was performed.

In any event, whether one or two in the crew, enough handbrakes need to be set to prevent movement. Unscrupulous employers cut staff, speed up work performance, and make all kinds of demands that inevitably lead to errors. There are plenty of derailments and other incidents involving the standard two-person crew - far more (obviously) than with the one-person. That proves nothing in and of itself. Many measures need to be taken to make rail freight transport safer, for railway workers, the public, and the environment.

 

To put it very bluntly you seem very sure you are right and everybody else in the world is wrong. HINT a man who would run a one man train IN MY OPINION would also maske that man work more than the 12 hour limit!!

HELLO!!! Think about it maybe your common sense might finally kick in!!!

Unionist

KenS wrote:

The railroad picked up the train from CN in Montreal.

Since it isnt that far to Lac Megantic, presumably the engineer drove other trains that day, and stopped when his shift ended.

Not meaning to nitpick, but MM&A actually picked it up from CP at the St-Luc Yard in Montréal. The MM&A rail line through Lac Mégantic itself is a former CP line - CP sold it off in 1995. The MM&A, oddly enough, is incorporated in Nova Scotia, even though it carries on no business in that province.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Just because one is s cynic doesn't mean the capitalists aren't willing to kill us for a buck. This company is the norm in the new millennium not some rogue outfit.

What I don't understand is why more people are not waking up and smelling the toxic fumes wafting from the corporate boardrooms. Corporate terrorists need to be arrested and incarcerated for our safety.

kropotkin1951 on July 10 wrote:

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.

cco

MMA's operating license has been pulled after the CTA determined it doesn't have enough liability insurance to operate in Canada. Boy, would that have been a nice determination to have made a little earlier.

Unionist

... and it looks as if CP Rail - which was the main carrier of the oil cars from North Dakota and just subcontracted the Montréal-Saint John portion to MMA - may finally get dragged into the liability debate:

http://journalmetro.com/actualites/national/356893/lac-megantic-quebec-p...

KenS
Unionist

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/refuses+M%C3%A9gantic+cleanup+... refuses to pay[/url]

Quote:

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. issued a brief but firm statement on Thursday advising the provincial government that it has no intention of paying for cleanup costs in Lac-Mégantic.

“As a matter of fact, and law, CP is not responsible for this clean up,” the rail giant said in response to Quebec’s decision to add the company’s name to a formal legal notice on Wednesday. “CP will be appealing.”

As the entity responsible for ensuring the transport of 72 tanker cars filled with crude oil from North Dakota to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick last month, the government says CP is liable for cleanup costs in the small town east of Montreal. CP engaged Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. to move the oil over the final stretch of track, but it never reached its destination.

 

Sandy Dillon

Greed which is rampant in this country right now will end up screwing most Canadians.

Sandy Dillon

Oil alone does not tend to explode.

These cars exploded like bombs!!!

Whatever was mixed with the crude caused them to explode . 

In my opinion there should not be one man train crews operating anywhere in Canada. Unionist thinks otherwise tho.

What next for these greedy bastards to make more money one pilot 747's flying overhead???

COMMON SENSE IS NO LONGER A CONSIDERATION WHEN IT COMES TO THE ALMIGHTY BUCK!!

PEOPLE'S SAFTEY NOT AN ISSUE THE ENVIROMENT NOT AN ISSUE THE GREED FOR MONEY HAS NO CARES AT ALL.

RAMPANT GREED IS OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THE SCREWED UP WORLD.

Caissa

The Irvings are considering buying the MM & A line.

Tommy_Paine

It seems CP has been refusing to let MM&A take transfers. 

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/transport-agency-orders-cp-to-resume-transf...

 

Wouldn't this action of saying MM&A isn't safe now, point to liability on CP's part in the past?

KenS

That link doesnt work Tommy.

But I'm pretty sure the answer is No.

CP would just say that they are refusing transfers based on the obvious evidence of the Lac Megantic accident- that CP would have no reason, and definitely no liability, to have previously known what MMA practices were.

 

Now- the potential explosiveness of the cargo is another story. According to the Transported Dangerous Goods Act the carrier has the clear responsibility to know the nature of the cargo. In that case, whether CP knew of the potential is close to immaterial. [Not to mention that the characteristics of Bakken oil had been widely discussed in the industry.]

Crude oil is I believe TDG Class 3. And those tank cars and other precautions taken and not taken were adequate for Class 3 [wheter or not they should be]. BUT it is the carrier's responsibility to know if the specific cargo had special characteristics that made it not a Class 3, and to take appropriate additional precautions.

In other words, MMA is on the hook for causing the accident. But I believe its pretty clear that CP is on the hook for the role played by the particular characteristics of the cargo. Unfortunately, the evidence to put CP on the hook is probably going to be a long time in coming.

Unionist
Caissa
Deckard Deckard's picture

The model is; the private comapny takes the profits and keeps the should-be-public information private, but the public pays the infrastructure (in reality), the public bails out when times are hard, and pays the collosal bills when disater stikes (in addition to the cost in lives, health, cancer, etc)

Imo, transport should be a form of public organisation, but which ever form is used, in any case, the organization should be fully and compeltely TRANSPARENT. In addition, whistle blower protection laws should be strengthened, and indicate that the organisational model (opaque, closed hierarchies) is utterly disfunctional, since no one should be fired or intimidated if they inform the public about any aspect of an activity, and that no one should be prevented from accessing (non-nominative) information, these corporations and crown agencies are relics (ancien organisational systems.)

 

We are now finding there are may illegal/semi-legit/abandoned sites with very toxic waste, some of them leaking, and the private companies are either never going to pay for the cleanup or damages or no longer exist having flown-by-night. Its the same problem as highlighted above, organizations opearting without being tranparent, open and democratic/organic (as opposed to hierarchic)

janfromthebruce

In the Ottawa Citizen today, the right-wing free enterprise think-tank goes to bat for con't support for deregulation and dismisses Mulcair NDP support for regulation.

Mary-Jane Bennett is a transportation consultant and is research fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (fcpp.org). Better known as private is better forever, no matter what.

Thomas Mulcair is wrong on rail deregulation

Her opening

Thomas Mulcair, NDP leader, has linked the July rail disaster at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, to what he calls “years of government deregulation.” In doing so, he creates a compelling narrative: The Lac-Mégantic was a tragedy of such consequence that surely, something other than the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway must be to blame. Deregulation has become Mulcair’s whipping boy since the accident, and although he’s not alone, there are problems with this conclusion.

ends with (support from a centre/right-wing think tank from the US) see Brookings Institute wiki page

Deregulation benefitted railways and consumers alike. Brookings Institution’s transportation expert Clifford Winston claims that deregulation put rail on “a secure footing” and turned out to be a “great boon for shippers.” So great has been the benefit to consumers, he claimed, that initiatives to re-regulate rail in the United States since have “gained little momentum.”

Noted in last para that hyped benefit to consumers alike but alas its example was aboon for shippers (who would be businesses) so I guess I misunderstood consumers - my mistake, as I was thinking citizens.

Deregulation brought to you by finance minister Paul Martin and the Liberals.

janfromthebruce

And who funds Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Who Funds the Right-Wing Think Tanks in Canada

Since the 1990s, Canada has seen a proliferation of narrowly focused corporatist think tanks. These are not, I want to stress, “conservative” think tanks. They are much narrower. They are not normally interested in social conservatism: they are interested solely in economic freedom, what used to be (in previous centuries) actually called liberalism. To that end, they argue that taxes cannot be lowered far enough, government services like healthcare cannot be privatized quickly enough, and public-private partnerships cannot go too far in hollowing out the supposedly inefficient public sector of the economy.

These organizations include the Fraser Institute, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, the Montreal Economic Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the C.D. Howe Institute, which I refer to as the Big Five, and their most recent sibling, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. The irony of naming a free-market think tank over the only two prime ministers in our history to repeatedly blow the budget building thickly subsidized national railways, one of whom loved high trade tariffs and the other of whom was immeasurably corrupt, apparently escapes them.

What is even more striking about the uniformity of perspective from these think tanks, though, is the uniformity of funding. Once you begin digging, you find that the same big names keep cropping up in the donation records. So what we have in Canada is an incidence of false pluralism. There appear to be many economic policy think tanks in Canada. But they get a large chunk of their funding from the same group of wealthy donors, and they espouse the basic policy prescriptions, which, conveniently, will help their donors get even more obscenely rich than they already are. It’s a pretty circle:

Got to love it!

jerrym

Quote:
 

The Transportation Safety Board finds that the train that exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic was carrying a more volatile mix of highly flammable crude oil than offically declared.

The Transportation Safety Board finds that the train that exploded in downtown Lac-Mégantic was carrying a more volatile mix of highly flammable crude oil than offically declared. ...

The Transportation Safety Board finding does not explain what set the 72-car train into motion shortly after midnight on July 6, but it does raise questions about the inspection process for hazardous materials and the adequacy of the older and less robust DOT 111 tanker cars that were being used to transport this particular batch of crude oil.

When the petroleum was pulled from the ground in the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota and transported to the Canadian Pacific train, it was tested and labelled as a Class 3, Packing Group II material, a classification that applies to combustible liquids such as gasoline, which can more easily catch fire.

Once it was loaded into the tankers, however, the required paperwork identified the oil as a less-dangerous Class 3, Packing Group III material. That classification applies to flammable liquids such as diesel fuel, which catch fire at a higher temperature.

“The lower flash point of the crude oil explains in part why the crude oil ignited so quickly once the . . . tank cars were breached,” said Don Ross, the Transportation Safety Board’s main investigator.

“The packing group was one of the considerations in selecting a container, which also calls into question the adequacy of Class 111 tank cars when transporting large quantities of low-flashpoint flammable liquids.”

Investigators could offer no explanation for the change in the classification of the crude oil, but said that Irving Oil, which operates a refinery in Saint John, N.B., had ultimate responsibility for how the product was labelled. ...

Ross added that, to the best of the agency’s knowledge, there are no federal rules dictating that there be special handling of more flammable liquid, like there are for transporting such goods by sea or air. More explosive material would not necessarily have to have been transported in a more crash-resistant tanker, nor would the material have been rerouted away from towns and cities.

While this might remove suspicion of a financial or business motive for the crude oil to be improperly labelled, it also points to an area of rail safety that is ripe for an intervention from the federal government.

Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt said she has ordered an investigation into the discrepancy and indicated there could be consequences.

“If a company does not properly classify its goods, they can be prosecuted under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act,” the minister wrote in a statement to the media.

The size of the flames in the picture provide some clue as to the extreme flammability of the train cars' mislabelled product. The ease with which this extremely dangerous product could be shipped across more than half the country in tanker cars in which the product was far from safe calls into question both Canada's safety regulations and its inspection system. Despite what the article says that the mislabelling would have no business advantage, it could be that the mislabelling was done simply to remove the small chance that someone might question why such a dangerous product was being shipped the way it was. If the product had been a less flammable one than it was labelled, some people who died might have had a chance of surviving the accident.

Once again we see that the Cons have at most a reactive rather than a proactive approach to safety and often simply deny there is a safety problem. Unfortunately, such an approach will continue to cost many Canadians their lifes over time. 

The NDP should call from a Royal Commission into all aspects of transportation safety for all modes of transportation. 

KenS

Had to find that article, which the Star ran.

A fair bit of information in it about regulations is outright wrong and/or muddled. The Globe also has an article without the errors, but not much more useful.

The one thing that comes through clearly to me is regulators working to pin the blame as far from themselves as possible. The only time they are willing to talk [and have a green light from the political masters] is when they have decided they have an opportunity for this.

But they also avoid commiting to a position. So things are framed and implied.

Behind the muddle that is reported is the message of 'mislabelling'. Which strictly speaking is true, but they attempt to imply that it was an error in this case and may happen other times.... rather than a routine circumstance of no effective regultion and zero oversight.

They wil eventually be able to hide behind the fact that appropriate classification by the circumstances, the actual flash point of the crude in this case, is the sole legal responsibility of the carrier [not Irving Oil as the article says].... even if no agency ever monitors compliance.

KenS

I just noticed that the article includes an extensive Twitter feed covering the press conference by TSB, after this article was posted. And at the bottom of that is also a video of the hour plus conference in English and French.

Among other things the TSB lays the responsibility for classification on Irving. They should know, but the TDG Act says carrier, not buyer, is responsible. [Which makes sense too.] There may well be different legislation for the railroads [using the TDG classification syatem], but it is hard to see how the responsibility would be reversed.

If anyone sees an article done AFTER this press conference, share it.

KenS

Minister Raitt was on CBC The House this morning. Two things of interest I noticed.

One is that despite the investigators in the press conference having said [or implied] that testing of the oil was done, and then that the oil was incorrectly labelled... the Minister said she does not know that any testing was done. What the Minister said is consistent with my understanding of usual practices. Interesting "gap" at any rate.

She referred to the Transported Dangerous Goods Act having jurisdiction. I had previously said that I was not sure that was the case. And it calls into question another major item at that press conference- where the investigator lays the responsibility for classification with the buyer, Irving Oil. I am almost 100% certain it is the carrier, Canadian Pacific. Another interesting "gap".

 

Unionist

KenS wrote:
And it calls into question another major item at that press conference- where the investigator lays the responsibility for classification with the buyer, Irving Oil. I am almost 100% certain it is the carrier, Canadian Pacific.

Same thought ran through my mind. CP contracted to carry the oil all the way from North Dakota to Irving Oil. How can they not be responsible for the correct labelling of what they are transporting?

 

KenS

The Transported Dangerous Goods Act is just what it says: legislation and law regulating the carrying of dangerous goods. So it stands to reason that in the Act the legal burden for classification is placed solely on the carrier. Unmistakable subtext: if you dont know what is in it, it is solely your respomsibility to determine that and what is the safe means of carriage.

And every province has a TDG Act that at least mirrors the classification system and process of Canada's. In practice, administration of the classification system and any variations to it is left to the federal DOT... who has a division devoted to it. Among other things, they work out with industry associations how classifications are determined. That SHOULD most definitely have been happening in this case. I know that it has happened around other materials- fracking wastes for one. Since no one has mentioned that kind of thing happening, it is safe to say it has not.... and the DOT and government are keeping a lid on that.

DOT discussing administration of classification with industry associations is problematic. But not even discussing it when the flash points of Bakken oil has for some time been known to be an issue...... that is what? criminal?

So when is some reporter going to start digging into that?

It occurs to me that no reporter would know about the division at DOT that handles TDG classifications, and probably have not come across that yet. I have too much on my plate already to initiate something. But I encourage people to get in touch with reporters that have been covering this- especially in Montreal [both languages] and the G&M. When one broaches it, the rest will go there.

ETA: I'm fine being contacted by interested reporters. The work I cant handle is in tracking them down and finding one interested. If you want to go out there and do that, I'm more than happy to send my contact info in a PM... before you go them, if you want.

KenS

Quote:

Unmistakable subtext: if you dont know what is in it, it is solely your respomsibility to determine that and what is the safe means of carriage.

True. But another thing is also true.

All industries and their products are evolving. At any given time, the carrying of many specific materials has not settled into a bureaucratic/administrative "routine". My observation is that when the handling of a relatively "new" material- new to the transportation industry nationaly or regionaly- the worst aspects of de facto self regulation come into play. I know about this with fracking wastes. It appears to be the same thing- on a larger scale- with road and rail transport of crude oil.

What seems to previal in practice with these meterials relatively new to the transportation companies is- "Well, no one is making us do anything. So we'll do it the way we think we should."  "And this doesnt seem very dangerous to us." Of course they dont stop to reflect that no one EVER makes them handle a not yet routine "new" material in any particular way... and that the legal and ethical burden of FIGURING safe transport is their's.

Unionist

[url=http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2013/09/20130913-20... employee sent to Lac-Megantic says he was not qualified[/url]

Quote:

The last railway employee dispatched to the scene of the July 6 fire that sparked the devastating trail derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., was not qualified to manage the situation, QMI Agency has learned.

Jean-Noel Busque, a foreman employed by Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railway, told QMI in an exclusive interview that his job was not to look after locomotives.

When asked which MMA employee was supposed to be on-site, Busque responded, "I don't know."

 

     

      addictedtomyipod

      I keep wondering about the classification levels of the dangerous goods being transported.  No one seems to ask if it costs more if transporting a product with a more dangerous labell on it.

      Does anyone know?

      KenS

      In practice, very much yes.

      Anticipating where you are going: "mislabelling" is the DOT [government] narrative... deflecting from self-regulation, no regulation, slashing of regulatory agencies.

      paolo

      Four months after Lac-Mégantic disaster, river highly contaminated

      Sediment from the Chaudière River, near the site of the Lac-Mégantic train derailment four months ago, shows high levels of contaminants according to testing done by Greenpeace Quebec and the Société pour vaincre la pollution (SVP). Despite months of cleanup operations sediments collected from the river show higher-than-acceptable levels of several chemicals, including cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

      Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet said the department continues to monitor the safety of the water, reports the Montreal Gazette, and will take into consideration the two groups’ test results.

      In late September Quebec’s environment department lifted a drinking-water ban for several downstream communities who rely on the Chaudière River for water....

      quote:

      27 times acceptable pollution levels

      Both Greenpeace Quebec and SVP say pollutant levels in samples taken 4.7km downstream of the lake are 27 times higher than accepted levels.

      The Lac-Mégantic derailment resulted in the release of an estimated 5.9 million litres of oil that burned or spilled into the town’s lake and the Chaudière river.

      Recently Quebec environment updated those oil spill figures from a previously estimated 5.6 million litres....

      http://commonsensecanadian.ca/four-months-lac-megantic-rail-disaster-riv...

      epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

      Police seize Irving Oil records in probe of Lac-Mégantic disaster

      quote:

      Inspectors from Transport Canada executed a search warrant on Wednesday on the company’s Saint John facility in an ongoing investigation of the accident, which killed 47 people last July. The train was hauling crude oil to Irving’s refinery when it crashed, causing massive explosions that destroyed several downtown blocks.

      A Globe and Mail investigation has documented how oil from the Bakken formation, which straddles North Dakota and parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, is much more explosive and corrosive than regulators and the industry thought, and that warning signs about the oil were ignored. On Thursday, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt told The Globe that Ottawa will implement new safety and testing measures for shipping crude oil by rail.

      Court documents filed in support of the search warrant indicate Irving is under investigation to determine whether it followed safety and security rules for importing dangerous goods and whether those goods were accompanied by proper documentation.....

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/investigators-search-irving...

      cco

      MMA CEO: "I'm a victim too"

      Quote:
      Burkhardt, who said he is the largest shareholder in the now-insolvent MMA, explained that he lost his entire investment after the crash forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection.

      "That's a big pile of money, I might say," Burkhardt, the president of MMA parent company Rail World Inc., said in a phone interview from his Illinois office.

      "It's reduced me from being a fairly well-off guy to one that's just getting by."

      jerrym

      Quote:
      Residents of a small town in North Dakota were urged to evacuate after a BNSF train carrying crude oil collided with another train on Monday (December 30), setting off a series of explosions and fires, the latest in a string of incidents that have raised alarms over growing oil-by-rail traffic.

      Local residents heard five powerful explosions just a mile outside of the small town of Casselton after a westbound 112-car train carrying soybeans derailed. An eastbound 106-car train hauling crude oil ran into it just after 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT), local officials said. There were no injuries in the collision that left 21 rail cars on fire, according to BNSF. ...

      Residents within 5 miles (8 km) of Casselton were urged to evacuate to avoid contact with the smoke. Residents within 10 miles were asked to remain indoors. ...

      North Dakota is home to a raging shale oil boom that produced nearly 950,000 barrels of oil a day in October. It is also a major grain producer and long accustomed to a high volume of rail traffic. But shipments of oil have surged lately, most of it the light, sweet Bakken variety that experts say is particularly flammable. Trains carried nearly 700,000 barrels a day of North Dakota oil to market in October, a 67 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the state Pipeline Authority.

      This summer, a runaway oil train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in the center of the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. The incident fueled a drive for tougher standards for such shipments, including potentially costly retrofits to improve the safety of tank cars that regulators have cited as prone to puncture.

      In early November, two dozen cars on another 90-car oil train derailed in rural Alabama, erupting into flames that took several days to fully extinguish.

      The Association of American Railroads recently proposed costly fixes to older tank cars that do not meet its latest standards but continue to carry hazardous fuels such as oil. The fixes include protective steel jackets, thermal protection and pressure relief valves, which could cost billions of dollars. Oil shippers, likely to be saddled with the costs of retrofits, oppose some of the changes proposed by the association.

      http://www.torontosun.com/2013/12/30/two-trains-collide-in-north-dakota-...

      The accidents in Alabama and North Dakota provide further evidence that rail transport of oil is highly dangerous, and even more so when tank cars not meeting modern standards are still being used. These accidents only avoided major loss of life, unlike Lac Megantic, because they occurred in rural areas, but their toxic fumes are still dangerous as witnessed by the town evacuations. A Federal-Provincial task force is considering shipping oil by rail to Churchill, Manitoba. 

      Quote:
       At a news teleconference in Winnipeg after the throne speech, Manitoba NDP Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton said he envisions the new Churchill transportation authority to play a role similar to CentrePort Canada, under development in Winnipeg, to play a role both in terms of promotion and facilities.  

      Some legislative changes will be required to establish the new Churchill transportation authority, Ashton said, noting its creation was recommended in the final 60-page report last January of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on the Future of Churchill. ...

      If you haven't heard of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on the Future of Churchill don't be surprised. As they note in their final report, Prime Minister Stephen Harper directed them to "maintain a low public profile and consultation approach." The task force consulted 60 individuals. That's right – 60. And among the "opportunities" identified by the joint Canada-Manitoba task force as possible over the next five years: "Ship light sweet crude oil by rail to Churchill for export from areas without sufficient pipeline capacity through private sector partnerships with east-coast refiners and oil producers. This opportunity is subject to fully addressing all potential environmental risks to sensitive Arctic ecosystems."

      Beginning next July, OmniTRAX, a Denver-based short line railroad, hopes to transport 3.3 million barrels of crude oil annually on its Canadian subsidiary Hudson Bay Railway line from The Pas northeast through Thompson Junction and onto Churchill. Hudson Bay Railway was created in 1997 by OmniTRAX, the same year it took over operation of the Port of Churchill. OmniTRAX bought the Port of Churchill, which opened in 1931, when it acquired it from Canada Ports Corporation, for a token $10 soon after buying the rail line from CN in 1997 for $11 million.

      http://www.thompsoncitizen.net/article/20131120/THOMPSON0302/311209994/-...

      The provincial NDP needs to move away from being simply a strong supporter of rail transport to Churchill and start opposing oil rail shipments as demanded by the Wilderness Committee. 

      Quote:
       The Wilderness Committee has a three-letter position on the Port of Churchill: ABO, or anything but oil.

      Eric Reder, the environmental group’s campaign director in Manitoba, said it opposes a proposal to ship oil through Churchill because it is environmentally reckless. He wants the Manitoba government pass legislation prohibiting shipments of oil through the port. “We’re relying on the Manitoba government to ensure that this plan doesn’t happen,” he said. “I expect the Manitoba government will put in place a ban on shipping crude oil through Hudson Bay…. We expect the Manitoba government to say no to crude oil through this region (through legislation).”

      OmniTrax Canada, which owns the railway to Hudson Bay and the Port of Churchill, intends to transport oil by rail and load it onto tanker ships at Churchill in 2014. The company plans a trial shipment of 330,000 barrels of light, sweet crude from Alberta in the summer, If it is successful, OmniTrax hopes to ship 3.3 million barrels per year on the Hudson Bay Railway and through the Port of Churchill.

      A provincial spokesperson said Transport Canada regulates the shipments of petroleum products by rail and ship. “The Manitoba government has been a strong supporter of the rail line and port,” the spokesperson said. “But the government has stated clearly its environmental and rail safety concerns with the proposal to ship bulk oil by rail to Churchill.” ...

      Reder said the federal government may have jurisdiction, but the Lac Megantic accident, which killed 47 people in Quebec last year, might shift the balance of legislative authority when it comes to shipping oil. He said shipping oil through Churchill is an outlandish concept for a long list of reasons. The community’s economy depends heavily on tourists who visit the community to see polar bears. However, Reder said an expanded petroleum industry would spew additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which warms the Arctic Ocean and puts polar bears at risk.

      “Far and away the biggest concern (with shipping oil to Churchill) is that we would build more fossil fuel infrastructure, which keeps us on a path of running our country and civilization for 10 years longer than we need to on oil,” he said. “It can’t be said too strongly how insane the plan is to take great risk to increase fossil fuel extraction.”

      As well, Reder said the Hudson Bay rail line is unsuitable for oil shipments. He traveled to Churchill by rail in the fall, and there were multiple derailments on the track or at the port during his stay. “Four days of travel and four accidents on that line,” he said. “People tell you how bad this track is. You can see how bad this track is. It’s obvious why there are problems.”

      He said there is also the risk of an oil spill in Hudson Bay, which would be nearly impossible to clean up. Skimmer ships, booms and dispersants are used to contain and mitigate oil spills in warmer climates, but those maritime resources don’t exist on Hudson Bay. Even if they were in place, he added, it’s unlikely such strategies would work. ...

      “We can’t handle a spill up there.”

      http://www.producer.com/daily/environmental-group-pans-shipping-oil-thro...

       

       

       

       

       

      jerrym

      Quote:
       BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A company that operated a natural gas pipeline for more than two years without a permit will not be fined by the state Public Service Commission.

      The pipeline by Hiland Operating LLC of Enid, Okla., was completed in 2010. The company told the commission in May 2012 that it did not have a permit.

      The Bismarck Tribune reports that a company can be fined up to $10,000 per day for “willfully building an energy conversion facility or transmission line without a permit,” with the total fine not to exceed $200,000.

      Commissioners say they don’t think the violation was intentional and fining Hiland might deter other companies from considering investment in North Dakota.

      http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/12/23/company-wont-be-fined-for-pipeline-wi...

       

      With a regulatory attitude like this, it is no wonder that there have been oil tanker railway accidents with fireball explosions in below standard tankers in Lac Megantic, Casselton, and Alabama carrying North Dakota oil. This kind of judgement says to corporations to break all rules - don't worry we won't do anything to you. And if you're thinking of investing here, absolutely no safety rules will get in your way. 

      jerrym

      In a just released safety alert, the United States Department of Transportation is warning the public, emergency responders and shippers that the shale oil crude that is being shipped from the Bakken shale-oil patch of North Dakota and Montana is of potential high volatility. This is the same type of oil involved in the deadly Lac Megantic accident in July, as well as the fiery explosions of a 90 tanker car train in rural Alabama in November and in Casselton, North Dakota on December 30th, where no one was hurt but hundreds were evacuated due to toxic fumes. Once again safety is only an afterthought when profits are involved. 

      Quote:
       

      Thursday's safety alert resulted in part from results of preliminary tests on Bakken oil to determine just how dangerous it is, said Jeannie Shiffer of the Department of Transportation's pipeline and hazardous material safety administration.

      Shiffer said it is important to know the volatility of the oil so that it can be properly handled during shipping.

      "Material must be properly classified at the beginning of the process. That determines everything," she said.

      The issue of volatility is of particular importance for firefighters and other emergency responders who have to deal with accidents like the one in Casselton, said Fred Millar, a rail-safety consultant in Virginia.

      While it may appear obvious that crude oil is dangerous, that message has not been fully shared with the hundreds of counties and cities across the U.S. that have seen a surge in crudeoil trains, Millar said.

      http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Crashes+prompt+fire+warning+about+shale...

       

      HYPERTlGER HYPERTlGER's picture

      The activists stopped the pipelines from being built...that were supposed to be built by now...so the only way to supply the oil you all demand to sustain things like...The Internet...The oil is being transproted by rail....the transport of oil by rail is increasing exponentially in line with your increasing demands...

      Because there is no replacement for oil...Unless the activists have a replacement...

      The net result is that the price of oil is increasing since the cost to supply your demands is increased by rail...Eventually your demands will become greater than you can afford and you will be cut off from oil...and then you will collapse...and that is how the carbon foot print is being reduced.

      I'm sure you are noticing all the people screaming for higher wages...the demand for oil has become greater than the supply...for years an years now.

      Peak oil showed up already...all the oil in Iraq is being supplied to China to sustain their slave wage export to the word based economy...

      There is massive fracking going on in the USA...without that...You would not be reading this...the world would have already imploded to oblivion already.

      2008 was the hitting of the iceburg...The 1944 Bretton woods global trade system with the USA as the source of inflation and the rest of the world the demand for it...reached maximum potential after 6 roaring decades...and since 2008 till now the Titanic USA has been headed to the bottom.

      So far you all are not aware of this...The USA is finished...It's in the process of collapsing/cannibalizing itself...It's been plundered into the ground the past 6 decades to supply inflation to the world to sustain the bretton woods global trade system.

      Canada has been growing weaker and weaker since 2008 due to the cut off of inflation from the USA...Ontario and Quebec are in debt up to their eyeballs...and are houses of cards that will implode during the next down leg of the collapse.

       

       

      HYPERTlGER HYPERTlGER's picture

      All crude oil is highly volatile...The tanker cars are just bombs wwaiting to happen...51% of a barrel of crude oil is gasoline...all you have to do is get a tanker hot enough and the oil seperates into gasoline and then when it boils it will burst the tank and explode.

      To make tank cars as safe as possible will just increase the cost of transport massively...and cut more people off at the bottom levels of society from oil.

      And there is no alternatives to petrochemicals...They are in everything and every aspect of modern civilization...you would have to go back to pre 1900 and try again...switch back to killing whales for oil to grease the machines.

      All these speculations and debates are by an uninformed public...I live over an ocean of oil so there will always be a supply for me...But the farther you are away from the supply...the greater your chances of being cut off become.

       

      NorthReport

      So are the federal governments during the last 10 years responsible for this train disaster by not enforcing the regulations?

      MM&A railway had repeated brake violations on the books

      A decade before the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, Transport Canada was aware of company's non-compliance

      Those violations, documented in Transport Canada files obtained by Radio-Canada's investigative program, Enquête, were noted several times in 2004 and 2009, and again in 2011 and 2012.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mm-a-railway-had-repeated-brake-v...

      epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

      Off the Rails Transportation of Dangerous Goods

      quote:

      J.A. Ash, Toronto-based head of the dangerous-goods team with the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) in Ottawa, witnessed much of the aftermath while visiting Lac-Mégantic for 15 days following the disaster. "I’ve been in the railway business for over 35 years and I’ve been responding to dangerous-goods incidents for 25 years," Ash says. "I’ve never seen one with that many fatalities."

      Quebec’s environment department estimated that of the 7.6 million litres of crude oil that the train had been carrying, nearly six million litres had spilled or burned in the disaster. Some crude contaminated the local sewer system, while 100,000 litres spilled into the nearby Chaudière River and other oil landed as far as 120 kilometres away.

      Raynald Marchand, general manager of the Canada Safety Council in Ottawa, believes that the disaster was due to a combination of several factors connected to security failure. Among the details that have come out: the cargo was improperly labelled; the train employed only one crew member — the locomotive engineer; the engineer retired to a hotel for the night, leaving the train unattended on a hill in nearby Nantes with the engine running; and an insufficient amount of hand brakes were applied during the stop....

      http://www.ohscanada.com/news/off-the-rails/1002942377/?&er=NA

      epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

      CP contests Lac-Mégantic cleanup order

      Canadian Pacific says it shouldn’t be forced to clean up the Lac-Mégantic oil spill because Quebec botched the process of issuing an emergency environmental order against the company.

      CP says the environment ministry did not supply it with all the documents it had related to the oil spill within 30 days, as required by law.

      Last summer, Quebec used the province’s environmental-quality law to order Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, World Fuel Services Corp. and Western Petroleum Co. to clean up spilled oil and any other contaminants. They also had to prevent the spread of contaminants into the environment, evaluate the extent of the environmental contamination, devise a cleanup and decontamination plan, and then execute that plan.

      About two weeks later, the government added CP and World Fuel Services Inc. to the cleanup order....

      http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/contests+M%C3%A9gantic+cleanup+order...

      epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

      Lac-Mégantic: Suppressing the Truth Behind Regulatory Failure

      Last week, 10 months after disaster struck the town of Lac-Mégantic, Québec government prosecutors laid criminal charges against three front-line employees of Montréal Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA).

      Each suspect, paraded publicly in handcuffs in a classic U.S. style "perp walk," was charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death.

      Residents reacted with disbelief at the travesty of the bankrupt MMA, which was also charged and only faces fines if convicted.  Its senior executives, directors, and owners have escaped prosecution while the three employees face life behind bars.

      For those hoping to achieve justice through the criminal courts, this is a cautionary tale.

      The producers who loaded their explosive Bakken oil onto unsafe tank cars face no charges....

      https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/commentary/lac-m%C3%A9gan...

      cco
      shartal@rogers.com

      I do not understand how they can declare bankruptcy and get their insurance extended. I am not asking a rhetorical question. I know this is all corporate greed. However could someone explain how a bankrupt company gets insurance extension?

      abnormal

      shartal@rogers.com wrote:
      I do not understand how they can declare bankruptcy and get their insurance extended. I am not asking a rhetorical question. I know this is all corporate greed. However could someone explain how a bankrupt company gets insurance extension?

      They didn't get their insurance "extended".  All they did was demonstrate that they had adequate third party insurance.  While that was most likely a new policy (as opposed to some sort of continuation of the "pre-bankruptcy policy").

      What was extended was their fitness certificate (whatever that is) - apparently at least part of the requirement for that is that they have adequate insurance and it sounds like some insurer has decided that the company is an acceptable risk so they've issued a policy.

       

      Unionist

      [url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-m%C3%A9gantic-rail-disaster-2...$200M proposed settlement reached[/url]

      Quote:

      Victims of the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., are one step closer to reaching a major financial settlement with the railway that was at the heart of the deadly tragedy.

      A U.S. lawyer who worked on the wrongful-death lawsuits said Friday that, if the compensation package is approved, $200 million will be distributed in settlement funds to families of those who died as well as other parties involved in the legal battle.

      Peter Flowers told The Canadian Press he expects the money to start flowing this summer, although the compensation package must still be approved by courts on both sides of the border.

      KenS

      It is an old question, but for shartal:

      A more basic point is that it is normal for companies to continue operating under bankruptcy. Doesnt necessarily happen, but it is a routine interim solution while how the bankruptcy goes is being settled. Not business as usual- but a recognition that stopping operations is not necessarily in the financial intestest of any party involved.

      And to operate they have to have insurance.

      lagatta

      As the second anniversary of this corporate mass murder and destruction comes up, there have been interviews with Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche (seen as a far better leader than some mayors of far larger cities here). Here's one from the Gazette with a story in English: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/lac-megantic-mayor-sees-hope-... There was a longer interview with Mme la Mairesse on Radio-Canada (Radio 1) this morning.

      She only disclosed that she had lost two cousins in the disaster a year later. Her husband of 40 years died of brain cancer early in 2015 (she had also lost her first husband to cancer when they were young - she was 25 and had a small child). She hasn't decided yet whether she will try for another term as mayor, or retire this autumn.

      epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

      Quebec says Canadian Pacific directly responsible for 2013 Lac-Mégantic damages

      Canadian Pacific Railway is directly responsible for damages caused when a runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in 2013 in Lac−Mégantic, according to new allegations recently filed in court by the Quebec government.

      The railroad was responsible for the crude oil from the moment it picked up the shipment in the United States until the product’s final scheduled destination in New Brunswick, the province alleges.

      Quebec is seeking to modify its $409−million lawsuit against CP (TSX:CP) to reflect the new allegations and will argue its case in court Nov. 8.

      quote:

      A CP spokesman said the railway will not comment on the developments.

      CP is the only company accused in the derailment to have refused to pay into a settlement fund for victims and creditors of the tragedy.

      MMA didn’t have enough insurance to pay damages to victims and creditors, so it filed for bankruptcy in the United States and Canada. The settlement fund is tied to the bankruptcy proceedings on both sides of the border.

      All the roughly 25 companies — except MMA — that paid into a $440−million fund received legal immunity from future prosecution related to the derailment.

      CP’s court battles relating to the Lac−Mégantic disaster extend beyond the Quebec government’s lawsuit....

      Unionist

      JUSTICE for a change!!! Now how about criminal charges against those actually responsible? The railway company, the pseudo-regulators... And a public inquiry with power to subpoena witnesses and evidence?

      3 former MMA rail workers acquitted in Lac-Mégantic disaster trial

       

      WWWTT

      Taken from the link provided by Unionist

       and listened to other former MMA employees called as Crown witnesses describe a work environment with little regard for safety standards and no budget for training.

      To me it sounds like the wrong people were charged for this corporate greed crime! So where the fuck is the crown prosecutors????? Why isn't the crown attorney properly investigating this so that they can charge the real criminals????

      Unionist

      WWWTT wrote:

      To me it sounds like the wrong people were charged for this corporate greed crime! So where the fuck is the crown prosecutors????? Why isn't the crown attorney properly investigating this so that they can charge the real criminals????

      Correct!

      Ed Burkhardt.

      Luc Bourdon.

      E. Hunter Harrison R.I.P.

      The Parliament of Canada which deregulated rail safety successively throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

      Not saying anything. Just throwing some names around.

      lagatta4

      That is how the people in the town feel. Most spoken to are happy that the workers weren't charged.

      My former downstairs neighbour (who has moved to a larger flat, in another co-op) was from Lac Mégantic, and knew several of the people killed.

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