TransCanada is promoting Energy East (April 20 commentary), a pipeline that will cut through Harbour Landing in Regina.
Using an old natural gas pipeline for the Saskatchewan portion, Energy East will transport 175 million litres of tarsands oil per day from Alberta to Eastern Canada, mainly for export.
TransCanada claims its pipelines are safe, but in its initial year of operation, TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline, constructed in 2010, had 12 spills, including one that dumped 79,493 litres of oil in North Dakota. [Editor: See Wall Street Journal report. Also ClimateProgress.]
Energy East is especially risky. The Saskatchewan section of the pipeline is 43 years old and was constructed to carry natural gas, not tarsands oil, a thicker substance requiring higher pumping pressure.
Should Energy East be approved, the question is not if, but when there will be pipeline leaks and spills. What happened in North Dakota could happen right in Regina.
TransCanada also claims that pipeline transport of oil is safer than rail transport. In truth, both are safety hazards.
Moreover, both modes of transport facilitate the expansion of tarsands production, an environmental hazard. Indeed, climate scientists warn that, if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we must leave at least 80 per cent of tarsands oil in the ground.
Citizen safety, health, and welfare must take precedence over corporate profit.
Regina should follow the good example of Toronto and ban the transport of tarsands oil through our city by rail or pipeline.
Saskatchewan train derailment cars same as those in Lac-Megantic disaster
WADENA, Sask. — The Canadian Press, Oct. 09 2014
CN Rail says the tanker cars that derailed and caught fire this week near a small community in Saskatchewan are the same type as those involved in the Lac Megantic disaster last year.
Jim Feeny says the Class DOT-111 rail cars are owned by shippers or leasing companies and CN has no choice but to accept them.
Almost three-quarters of the tanker cars used in North America are 111s.
Feeny says regulators on both sides of the border have laid out a time frame to replace the older cars, but it will take time.
“We are on record as favouring a very aggressive phase-out of the older model DOT-111s, but we are required to accept these cars at this point,” Feeny told radio station CKRM Thursday.
“We are required to operate them. We have no choice in that matter. We are calling on the industry and the federal government to phase them out, but the fact is, there are many of them, and it will take time to do this.”
Both CN and CP have said they are already phasing out or retrofitting their fleet.
Dozens of people had to leave their homes this week in Clair, Sask., and surrounding area when 26 cars derailed and two of them carrying petroleum distillate caught fire.
Forty-seven people were killed when a runaway train carrying crude oil barrelled down a hill, derailed and exploded in downtown Lac Megantic in July 2013.
The Association of American Railroads has recommended that the 111s used to transport flammable liquids be retrofitted or phased out and wants a reinforced standard for new tank cars.
The 111 car is considered the workhorse of the North American fleet and makes up about 70 per cent of all tankers on the rails. The cars have a service life of between 30 and 40 years.
Since October 2011, all new tanker cars have been built to safer specifications. But there is a long backlog on new car orders because there are only a handful of manufacturers in North America.
A government-commissioned report has said there are about 228,000 DOT-111 cars in service throughout North America. About 92,000 of them carry flammable liquids.
About 26,000 reinforced models have been put into service and that’s expected to rise to 52,500 next year.
Adam Scott, a spokesman for the advocacy group Environmental Defence, said Canada has seen an exponential growth in the amount of oil travelling by rail.
“The rail system was not designed with public safety in mind for that much oil,” said Scott, who added that the DOT-111 cars are generally used.
“They have well-documented safety problems,” he said. “They are very thin and in crashes they do tend to leak and explode.”
Scott said freight rail lines “actually go right through the centre of almost every major urban centre in the entire country including small towns … so the risk of accidents is significant.”
Repost from MSNBC, Rachel Maddow Show [Editor: Incredible video footage of two early October train crashes, and excellent Rachel Maddow commentary. (Live video of the train crash at minute 2:10.) Apologies for the 20-second commercial ad that precedes the video. – RS]
Rachel Maddow reports on a train derailment and subsequent fire in Canada, which follows on the heels of a dramatic train crash in Louisiana as the oil and rail industries try to push back the deadline for new federal safetly requirements.
Repost from The Canadian Press [Editor: Every source I can find uses the phrase “petroleum distillates,” but no source further identifies the substance that caught fire and exploded. Is this a “news blackout”? …OCTOBER 8 UPDATE (CBC News) “According to the provincial government, of the six cars carrying hazardous materials, two had sodium hydroxide and two had hydrochloric acid. The other two had petroleum distillates, which included a Varsol-type substance.” …Still pretty sketchy.
Train derails in central Saskatchewan; village evacuated
By Clare Clancy, October 7, 2014
WADENA, Sask. — A CN freight train carrying dangerous goods derailed in central Saskatchewan Tuesday sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air and displacing residents of a tiny nearby hamlet.
The derailment happened near the community of Clair, which has a population of about 50. Police told those people to leave their homes and also evacuated farms near the scene.
CN spokesman Jim Feeny said the train was made up of three locomotives pulling 100 rail cars and that 26 of them derailed.
He said the fire came from petroleum distillates, which spilled from two of the derailed cars.
The fire had “diminished” as of Tuesday evening, Feeny said, but was still burning.
Clair is about 190 kilometres east of Saskatoon near the community of Wadena.
Alison Squires, who is the publisher of the Wadena News, went to the fire and said she has never seen anything like it in the 13 years she has lived in the area.
“I’ve seen derailments, but this is a pretty bad one,” she said. “You could see … this huge plume of black smoke. When I got there, there was a small explosion. The smoke is too thick to see what cars are involved.”
She added that there was a detour going north to pass the derailment, but not one going south.
“They are assuming the smoke is toxic,” she said.
A witness told radio station CKOM that the flames were at least 30 meters high at one point.
“The smoke is blowing from west to east and there is quite a bit of it,” Peter Baran told the station as he watched the fire from a highway.
Pictures from the scene suggested the derailment took place in a sparsely populated area. They showed the smoke billowing high into the sky.
The Transportation Safety Board said it was deploying a team of investigators to the site. CN sent in a hazardous materials team to clean up the area.
The railway industry has been under increased scrutiny since July 2013, when 47 people died after a train carrying oil derailed and exploded in downtown Lac-Megantic, Que.
Adam Scott, a spokesman for the advocacy group Environmental Defence, said Canada is experiencing a boom in the use of railways to transport petroleum products.
“The freight rail lines actually go right through the centre of almost every major urban centre in the entire country including small towns, communities across the country, so the risk of accidents is significant,” he said.
“The government has introduced measures, but they don’t go nearly far enough in terms of safety.”
He said rail companies are not required to publicly disclose the types of hazardous materials being transported on trains.
“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “The municipalities themselves, the communities have no power, no control, and in this case no information even over what’s being run through the rail lines.”
In August, the Transportation Safety Board issued a report into the Lac-Megantic tragedy that called for improved safety measures and cited inadequate oversight by Transport Canada. One of the criticisms brought forward was a lack of inspections.
Harry Gow, president of advocacy group Transport Action Canada, said the derailment in Saskatchewan shows the need for more inspectors.
“I would say that if one wants to ensure safety in moving hazardous goods, one has to have inspectors who are empowered to do the work, that are trained to do more than just check the company’s paperwork, and are sufficiently numerous and well-resourced to get out on the ground and see what’s going on,” he said.
“The incident in Saskatchewan today is fortunately not occurring in a large town,” he said. “But that doesn’t excuse the lack of oversight by Transport Canada.”