Skip to content

Train carrying oil and gas derails in New Brunswick

CBC reports, “Fire burned throughout the night following the derailment of a CN Rail train hauling crude oil and propane in northwestern New Brunswick. …There were no injuries to the crew. There have been no reports of injuries to the public. …The derailment happened around 7 p.m. Tuesday, near Plaster Rock (about 150 kilometres northwest of Fredericton). …There are no homes or buildings in the immediate area, but about 50 homes in the vicinity have been evacuated. …Hazardous material responders from Toronto, Moncton and Montreal were en route to the scene overnight.”

“The train was headed east from central Canada (Toronto, according to a Reuters report) to Moncton. The derailment happened in Wapske, in the area of the Longley Road where lumber cars are loaded. People five kilometres away in Plaster Rock reported seeing flames.”

The Globe and Mail adds, “Rail safety has become a major issue across the country since the deadly derailment in Lac-Megantic, Que., last summer and as a growing amount of fuel oils and crude petroleum is carried by train across the country. In 2011, around 68,000 carloads of fuel oils and crude petroleum moved along Canadian rail lines, according to Statistics Canada. In 2012, that rose to nearly 113,000. Between January and September of 2013 — the most recent data available — some 118,000 carloads had been shipped via rail.”

On the issue of relative safety, the Huffington Post has reported, “Pipelines spill three times as much oil over comparative distances as rail, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. …The IEA found the risk of a rail spill is six times as high as the risk of a pipeline spill, but pipelines simply spill more when they rupture. …The study backs up research from the American Association of Railroads, released last month, which found that rail transport spills 0.38 gallons of oil per million barrels moved, compared to 0.88 gallons for pipelines.”

And as an increased amount of fracked oil from North Dakota is transported by rail, there area also concerns about the flammability of this product. In December, the Toronto Star reported, “Most of the oil produced in North Dakota is extracted using hydraulic fracturing… Bakken crude can contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic, corrosive chemical that’s extremely flammable. …The oil’s flammability classification is the highest there is, level 4 — the same as methane gas and propane… In the case of a spill, the Bakken oil could ignite, with a spark, at 20C.”

Further reading
It’s wrong to use Lac-Mégantic to argue for pipelines

Harper told no regulatory approval needed for moving tar sands oil by rail

Oil cars on fire after train collision in North Dakota