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Council of Canadians calls for immediate halt to crude shipments after derailments and explosions near Gogama, Ontario

The Council of Canadians is calling on the federal government to immediately halt rail shipments of crude oil in Canada following a series of derailments and explosions. These incidents all involved new rail tank cars promoted by federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt as being safer than those that exploded in Lac Mégantic, killing 47 people.

“Clearly the new tank cars are not safe enough to transport such dangerous and explosive cargo as crude oil and diluted bitumen,” said Mark Calzavara, Ontario, Québec and Nunavut organizer for The Council of Canadians. "It's time to put people's lives ahead of profits, and for the government to stop allowing unsafe trains to travel through our communities, neighbourhoods and environment."

Crude oil and diluted bitumen shipments by train have increased dramatically in the last few years with the glut of oil production in the tar sands of Alberta and the Bakken oil fields of Saskatchewan and North Dakota. In 2009, 500 carloads of crude oil were shipped by rail in Canada compared to 160,000 carloads in 2013. This drastic increase in volume has not been matched with increased inspection capacity or any other oversight.

“Is the federal government waiting for another Lac Megantic disaster before it takes real action? These shipments are going through major populated areas on a daily basis where emergency responders are unprepared for accidents. They need special training and equipment, including massive quantities of fire-fighting foam to put out crude oil fires,” said Calzavara. “There is no justification for putting so many lives at risk.”

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Photo: DOT-111 Mulford derailment