An estimated 47 lives and dozens of buildings were lost on July 6 when a train derailed in Quebec, Canada, and then exploded. The derailment and the explosion made headline news in most places, but there has not been much discussion regarding the details of this horrific tragedy that started when the train’s brakes reportedly didn’t work. What happened in the small town of Lac-Megantic could be repeated in the United States at an increasing chance of likelihood. The reason that this train derailment caused such damage was that it was an oil train and had 72 tank cars of oil it was hauling.
The fact that a train is carrying oil might not capture the attention of many people, but more and more trains are carrying oil now. Only about 500 carloads of oil per year were transported by Canadian railways just four years ago and now that number has sky rocketed to around 140,000 per year. There are estimates that this number is only going to continue to greatly increase over the years ahead and could increase by eight times the present amount by 2035.
The massive increase in crude oil being transported by Canadian railways is even more interesting now that the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, recently gave President Obama two choices, “His choice is to have it come down by a pipeline that he approves, or without his approval, it comes down on trains. That’s just the raw common sense of this thing, and we’ve been saying it for two years and we’ve been proven correct. At the end of the day, it’s trains or pipelines.” The final construction of the Keystone Pipeline has been held up for several years now due to President Obama’s objections over “environmental” concerns that have been proven to be not a real concern within the current map of the pipeline’s route. While the environmentalists have obviously gotten President Obama to agree with their desires, there are increasingly greater chances of train-caused disasters that are of much greater risk than any proposed pipeline risks. Any person with common sense should be able to understand these relative risks and come to a logical conclusion that the Keystone XL Pipeline should be approved for final construction and completion so that the risks of these train disasters are not at a higher chance of being repeated.