Bomb Train Roulette? Latest Derailment in Ontario Is Fourth in Four Weeks
A train carrying crude oil that derailed in northern Ontario on Saturday—which resulted in numerous overturned cars catching fire and oil spilling into a local waterway— is the fourth such accident in North America in as many weeks.
The train, owned by the Canadian National Railway Co., was passing over a bridge above the Makami River near the town of Gogama, Ontario when the derailment occurred, sending thirty-five cars off the tracks, at least five of which ended up in the water. A large fire and huge black clouds of smoke followed.
“The oil and railroad industries are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives and our environment, and the Obama administration needs to put a stop to it.” —Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological DiversityThe CBC reports the train was 94 cars long and all were tanker cars carrying crude oil from Alberta.
Officials with rail company have said their disaster response team was on the scene and tried to assure residents that drinking water supplies have not been harmed. Local residents who spoke to media did not seem convinced there was nothing to worry about.
“It’s frightening and nerve-wracking, especially after what happened in Quebec,” Roxanne Veronneau, owner of the Gogama Village Inn, told the Toronto Star, referring to the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic in 2013 that killed 47 people.
“People here are on pins and needles,” Veronneau continued. “The tracks run right through town … I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of talk afterward that this shouldn’t be in the middle of our town.”
Since February 14, there have been three other fiery oil train derailments in North America, including another in Ontario and two in the U.S., one in West Virginia on February 16 and the other last Thursday in Illinois.
Speaking on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, senior scientist Mollie Matteson said the rate of derailments speaks to a crisis that demands immediate and aggressive action.
“Before one more derailment, fire, oil spill and one more life lost, we need a moratorium on oil trains and we need it now,” said Matteson in a weekend statement. “The oil and railroad industries are playing Russian roulette with people’s lives and our environment, and the Obama administration needs to put a stop to it.”
As with at least three of the four latest rerailments, the cars involved in Saturday’s crash were all confirmed by a company spokesperson to be the supposedly safer, newer model—known as CPC-1232—which Canada’s transportation administration recently ordered to be a requirement for all new tank cars constructed to carry flammable liquids.
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