Train carrying crude derails in Seattle as Vancouver politicians struggle with a spike in oil by rail

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      A train carrying oil has derailed in the Interbay neighbourhood of Seattle, roughly seven kilometres west of where the Interstate 5 highway cuts through the city’s downtown core.

      According to the Seattle PI, the five-car train was travelling at about eight kilometres an hour when three of its cars tipped onto their sides.

      The train was brought to a standstill. No oil was reported spilled in the accident.

      On July 24 the Georgia Straight published an in-depth cover story about a dramatic increase in the use of trains to move oil through British Columbia.

      According to Transport Canada, the number of railcars that carried crude oil and diluted bitumen through B.C. has increased from 41 in 2011 to 3,381 in 2013.

      On a national scale the numbers are even more dramatic.

      “The amount of crude oil now being shipped by rail in North America is staggering,” that story states citing information provided by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). “In Canada in 2009, there were only 500 carloads of crude oil shipped by rail; in 2013, there were 160,000 carloads. In the U.S. in 2009, there were 10,800 carloads; and in 2013, there were 400,000 carloads.”

      In an interview for that story, Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer reported attending a July 15 conference in Seattle that saw more than 100 civic officials from across the Pacific Northwest meet to discuss increasing volumes of oil and coal moving through their cities.

      “Even before Lac-Mégantic, this was an issue on municipalities’ radar screens across the country,” Reimer said.

      Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan described the potential for a major spill involving oil by rail as a simple matter of probability.

      “I’ve found one thing when it comes to industrial accidents: if it can happen, it will,” he said. “The more incidence of movement by rail, the greater the likelihood is that you’re going to have a serious accident.”

      Read the Straight’s July 24 story in its entirety here: More trains moving oil through B.C. raise fears of a Lac-Mégantic disaster.


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      Ron Schalow

      Jul 25, 2014 at 7:45am

      The new rules mean nothing if Bakken producers are still allowed to transport explosive natural gas liquids (NGLs), in the same tanker car as the crude. The threat to millions will continue, and the death toll will grow.


      Jul 25, 2014 at 1:53pm

      Seriously. The problem is that some people are absolutely against any movement of carbon fuels and will drive to every protest they can reach. The opinions of those people actually don't matter, just as the opinions of those determined to change the economic system don't matter. Until society has no need for carbon fuels they will be moved from place to place, just as capitalism will rule until something that offers more than equal misery for all. The folks demanding change aren't part of the debate and can be ignored.

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