Tag Archives: Canadian Pacific Railway

Previously secret details: Bakken crude oil rolling over Ohio rails

Repost from The Columbus Dispatch

Bakken crude oil rolls over Ohio rails

By Laura Arenschield & Rick Rouan, January 29, 2015
Ohio’s railroad tracks handle at least 45 million gallons of Bakken crude oil in a week. This view of tracks is from Groveport Road on the South Side. | Tom Dodge | Dispatch

Millions of gallons of some of the most volatile crude oil in North America are being transported on rail lines through Ohio each week, according to reports that the state had kept secret until this week.

The railroad-company reports show that 45 million to 137 million gallons of Bakken crude oil come through Ohio each week from North Dakota oil fields on the way to East Coast refineries.

Two million to 25 million gallons a week come through Franklin County alone.

Bakken crude oil is desirable to oil and gas companies because it requires less refining than other shale oil to be turned into diesel fuel and gasoline. It also is highly flammable.

Prompted by a 2013 train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec and an explosion in Lynchburg, Va., last April, federal regulators began requiring railroads in May to report the average weekly number of trains carrying at least 1 million gallons of Bakken crude.

Those reports are sent to state emergency-management agencies. The U.S. Department of Transportation has said the files don’t contain sensitive security details, prompting some states, including Virginia and Washington, to make the reports public.

Despite requests from environmental groups, citizens and news outlets, including one from The Dispatch in July, Ohio would not release the reports, citing an exemption in the public-records law meant to prevent acts of terrorism.

Then this week, the state released the records to Lea Harper, managing director of the FreshWater Accountability Project, an environmental advocacy group.

The state released the reports to The Dispatch yesterday.

“So many other states are doing it, and our legal staff started looking into it and made a determination that it probably was not as volatile of information as it first seemed to be,” said Joseph Andrews, a spokesman for the State Emergency Response Commission in Ohio.

One of Harper’s relatives lives in a nursing home in Seneca County, near railroad tracks where Bakken crude-oil shipments pass each week. She said she worries about his safety.

“Anything that has happened in the past can certainly happen again,” she said, referencing the explosions in Virginia and Quebec.

No Bakken shipments have exploded or caught fire in Ohio, Andrews said.

Transport of crude oil via rail has surged in recent years amid the boom in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota.

The amount of crude petroleum hauled on U.S. railroads increased from more than 20 million tons in 2012 to nearly 40 million tons in 2013, the most recent data available through the Association of American Railroads. In 2011, about 5 million tons of crude was hauled by rail.

That number includes all oil, not just Bakken crude oil.

With nearly 5,300 miles of track, Ohio has one of the densest concentrations of rail in the nation and is a crossroads between the Bakken shale formation and East Coast refineries.

Most of the Bakken crude traveling through Ohio is being transported on CSX rail lines. The CSX report shows that 30 million to 105 million gallons of Bakken crude are hauled through Ohio each week. Norfolk Southern moves 13 million to 28 million gallons of Bakken crude.

Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon said the company opposes public release of its routes for Bakken crude for security reasons.

“We have to balance that openness with operating a secure network,” Pidgeon said.

In an email, CSX spokeswoman Kristin Seay said crude-oil shipments represent less than 2 percent of the freight the railroad transports.

She said the company often goes beyond federal standards for track inspection and stays well within speed limits.

In February 2013, railroads opted for voluntary measures to ensure safe shipment of crude oil, including reduced speed limits and more inspections.

Canadian Pacific Railway runs an average of three trains per week on a short stretch of Norfolk Southern rail that cuts through northwestern Ohio. Those trains cross from Indiana into Williams County and travel northeast through Fulton County before crossing into Michigan.

The train that exploded in Quebec started as a Canadian Pacific train. The company transferred the train to Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway in Canada before the derailment.

Canadian Pacific has made several changes since, including tighter security requirements, more frequent inspections of tracks and equipment and more worker training, said Andy Cummings, a company spokesman.

“We took a very close look at our practices,” he said.

The reports sent to state emergency-management agencies do not say when Bakken crude oil is coming through Ohio. Railroad companies are not required to report schedules for those shipments.

In Cuyahoga County, 29 million to 45 million gallons of Bakken crude travel along rail lines each week.

“It’s a concern,” said Walter Topps, Cuyahoga County’s emergency-management agency administrator. “It’s not a concern in the sense that we’re not ready. But there’s an awareness in the first-responder community, among fire departments … we’re all aware of this.”

Latest derailment: Train carrying propane derails in northern Ontario

Repost from The Canadian Press

Train carrying propane derails near Nipigon in northern Ontario

January 13, 2015
CP Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives move cars at a railyard in Calgary, in a May 16, 2012 photo. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

NIPIGON, Ont. — Canadian Pacific says a train carrying propane has derailed in northern Ontario.

Police say the derailment occurred Tuesday morning approximately 45 kilometres east of Nipigon.

A Canadian Pacific Railway derailment crew, CP police and local fire and rescue workers are at the scene.

A railway spokesman said seven cars were carrying propane and there is a “minor leak” from one of the cars.

No injuries have been reported after 22 cars derailed.

Police say a hazmat unit from CP Rail will assess the site before cleanup can commence, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it’s deploying a team of investigators.

Officers have set up a perimeter around the affected area, and Highway 17 from Nipigon to Schreiber is expected to be closed until around noon on Wednesday.

Quebec town: Train disaster settlement provides very little

Repost from AP News, The Big Story
[Editor: Significant quote: “Lac-Megantic Mayor Colette Roy Laroche said over the weekend the estimated cost of rebuilding the town is about $2 billion.”  See also: repost from The Globe and Mail.  – RS]

Quebec town: Train disaster settlement provides very little

Jan. 12, 2015

MONTREAL (AP) — The deputy mayor of a Quebec town where a fiery oil train derailment killed 47 people said Monday a proposed settlement fund for victims represents just a fraction of what’s needed.

A $200-million settlement was announced last week, with more than one-half of the money going to various levels of government. About $50 million is destined for relatives of the 47 people who died in the July 2013 disaster, although the amount could rise. The settlement involves the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Canada Co., its insurance carrier, rail-car manufacturers and some oil producers. Three major companies have declined to participate — World Fuel Services, Canadian Pacific Railway and Irving Oil.

Lac Megantic Deputy Mayor Richard Michaud said the families of the victims will share in the settlement money, which is “very little considering there are more than 20 orphans who must rebuild their lives.”

“Two hundred million can seem like a lot of money but in my opinion, it’s very little,” Michaud said. “Much more than $200 million has been injected by the federal and provincial government to decontaminate the devastated territory alone, and we’re not even talking about reconstruction.”

Much of downtown Lac Megantic was destroyed on July 6, 2013, by a raging fire caused when an unattended train with 72 oil tankers carrying volatile crude derailed after it began rolling downhill toward the town of 10,000 people. More than 60 tankers derailed and several exploded. Forty-seven people died, and dozens of buildings were destroyed.

U.S. bankruptcy trustee Robert Keach is hoping the $200 million amount rises considerably before final approval of the plan in U.S. and Canadian courts.

Keach, a court-appointed trustee in the defunct railroad’s bankruptcy case in Maine, said the draft sets aside about $50 million of the $200 million pool for wrongful death claims, which could increase through a reallocation of the federal government’s share to as much as $57 million.

Up to $29 million could go to property damage, while another $19 million could go to bodily injury and moral damage claims, Keach said.

Those amounts reflect a possible reallocation of the federal government’s take. As it currently stands, more than 52 percent of the overall funds would go to provincial, federal and municipal governments. The formulas could change if the amount goes up.

“This is only a draft, so there are separate but parallel processes on both sides of the border,” Keach said. “The hope is we’ll have all the approval orders in place in early to mid-April so we could have a distribution in place by June or July.

“We are hoping (the final amount) grows between now and then, but the deadline for it growing is going to be those final hearings,” he added.

Yannick Gagne, owner of the Musi-Cafe, a business that was destroyed and where the majority of the victims died, said money won’t bring back the lives lost but could help with the relaunch of the downtown. Plenty more money will be required, however, to rebuild the town center essentially from scratch, he said.

Reconstruction costs are significant and Gagne himself has taken out loans, used insurance money and paid out of pocket. He also spent seven months out of work.

“For many people, it was a difficult time financially,” said Gagne, whose cafe quietly reopened on Dec. 15. “The mayor said it best —that $200 million is not sufficient.

“We are a long way from what we need. And it’s not up to the population to pay for this tragedy.”

Lac-Megantic Mayor Colette Roy Laroche said over the weekend the estimated cost of rebuilding the town is about $2 billion.

$200 million settlement money announced for victims of Lac-Mégantic rail disaster

Repost from The Globe and Mail, Toronto
[Editor: Significant quote: “‘The main three bad actors, World Fuels, Canadian Pacific Railway and Irving Oil, aren’t contributing a penny to this settlement. We’re going to keep going after them very hard in American court,’ said Mr. Flowers.”  – RS]

Settlement money announced for victims of Lac-Mégantic rail disaster

Justin Giovannetti, Jan. 09 2015
Smoke rises from tanker cars in downtown Lac-Megantic, Que., on July 6, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Smoke rises from tanker cars in downtown Lac-Megantic, Que., on July 6, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The families of those who died in the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster will have access to a $200-million (U.S.) fund, according to details released Friday from the bankruptcy case of the railroad responsible for the 2013 tragedy in eastern Quebec.

The fund still needs to be approved by Canadian and American courts before the first cheques are mailed to the families of the 47 people killed in the crash. A firefighter who died by suicide three months after the disaster was added to the list of victims. Money could flow as soon as this spring.

“The families of the victims need to live with this disaster every day. Those in town have gone into debt to try to get back on our feet and rebuild. If this could let us start over our lives on the right foot, that would be great, but we haven’t seen any money yet,” Yannick Gagné, the owner of the Musi-Café bar where the majority of the victims died, told The Globe on Friday.

Mr. Gagné has rebuilt the Musi-Café, but he’s still awaiting the help he says he was promised in the weeks after the disaster.

Just after 1 a.m. on July 6, 2013, a train carrying 72 cars of crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in New Brunswick careened while unmanned into the centre of town and derailed. A series of powerful explosions then levelled much of the city’s once picturesque downtown.

The settlement money announced Friday was drawn not only from the liquidation of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, the firm at the centre of the derailment, but also from a number of companies that extracted the oil, built the rail cars and leased them to shippers.

According to Peter Flowers, a Chicago-based lawyer involved in a wrongful death lawsuit, talks are continuing about how much of the $200-million will go to the families of victims.

“The money goes to the wrongful death victims – a class-action filed in Canada – those who suffered economic and emotional damages, and to the provincial and federal governments’ environmental claims,” Mr. Flowers said.

Crews are still demolishing buildings in downtown Lac-Mégantic and locals remain jittery about how much compensation they’ll receive. Property owners downtown have received $37-million from the government. But victims of the disaster have so far received nothing from the companies.

While bankruptcy trustee Robert Keach said he is seeking $500-million for the victims’ fund before Monday’s filing deadline, Mr. Flowers said the decision not to pay by three of the largest corporations linked to the disaster was responsible for the shortfall.

“The main three bad actors, World Fuels, Canadian Pacific Railway and Irving Oil, aren’t contributing a penny to this settlement. We’re going to keep going after them very hard in American court,” said Mr. Flowers.

The three companies have so far denied any responsibility for the 2013 disaster.