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Quebec train disaster raises question about shipping oil by rail

The train en route to east coast refineries that exploded in Quebec has upped scrutiny of the idea of moving oil by rail.

Sierra Club Canada’s Executive Director John Bennett is calling for stricter regulations for the industry.

“This is a horrible tragedy,” he continues, “we’ve lost lives as well as property and we don’t need to have that happen.  You can have regulations that make the transport of oil safer.”

He says recommendations from the ’05 Lake Wabamum derailment haven’t been acted on.

He says it’s time for Ottawa to take responsibility.

“Wwe’re still looking for an investigation of this latest one, but it didn’t appear that they gave any greater care to handling a train load of oil then it did hauling a train load of stereos.”

The Canadian Rail Association says since 2009, shipment of crude by rail has increased in the country by 28,000%.

It says this year it had 140,000 cars shipping crude which is up from 500 in 2009.

Bennett says despite increased traffic, regulations haven’t kept up.

“There hasn’t been any changes in Canadian or U.S. regulations for rail transport of oil, and because of that, I think we’ll see some more tragedies.”

Because pipeline capacity is so restricted, more energy companies are looking to rail to move their product.

Bennett says he’d like to see a liability fund that both energy and rail companies pay into.

So far officials have confirmed 5 deaths in the explosion, and they continue to look for about 40 more.

July 8th, 2013