Rail Transport of Oil is Dirtier and More Dangerous
TransCanada Corp. President Alex Pourbaix recently said those who are concerned about the environment should consider the consequences of delays in building the Keystone XL pipeline – an increase in dirtier and more dangerous rail transport (Financial Post). He went on to say, “For every mile you move a barrel of oil by rail, you emit 3 times the (greenhouse gases) that you do by moving it by pipeline and you have an order of magnitude higher risk of having some sort of incident, leak or spill.”
The Manhatten Institute provides strong support for Pourbaix’s comments by indicating that the rate of spill incidents is 34 times higher for trains than for pipelines. Even the Association of American Railroads acknowledges the likelihood of a rail accident is far greater than the chance of a pipeline problem. A former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board chairman has warned that the rapid increase in the transport of oil by railways is going to end in some sort of disaster.
In January, 16 environmental groups sent a letter to CN CEO Claude Mongeau, warning that any potential efforts to bring oil sands crude across British Columbia by rail to the West Coast for export would “face major opposition and risks to the company”.
As the rail industry pushes to transport more crude oil and other petroleum and chemical products, transportation experts, regulators, governments, environmentalists and the hundreds of thousands of people who live near railways in Canada and the United States become increasingly worried about the rail industry’s poor safety and environmental records.
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that railways are assembling longer and heavier trains that are harder to control, and the fact that railways are situated in river and stream valleys and along lake shorelines, all of which significantly increase the risk of derailments and disastrous spills of oil and other dangerous goods.
See this link for more information on the risks of transporting oil by rail, this link for more information on derailments in general, and CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for a list of just some of the thousands of derailments and other accidents by CN Railway, alone.