An oil-laden train derailed and caught fire in a stretch of Ontario wilderness over the weekend. No one was hurt, but the crash is the latest in a series of incidents involving crude traveling North America’s rails. The Wall Street Journal reports:
A train carrying crude oil and operated by Canadian National Railway Co. derailed near the town of Timmins in northern Ontario just before midnight on Saturday, causing a fire but no reported injuries. […]The transportation of oil by rail has soared in recent years amid the boom in North American oil production. The practice has come under intense scrutiny since an oil train derailed and exploded in a small town in Quebec in 2013, killing 47 people. There have been numerous other, non-deadly incidents since that one, which led Canadian and U.S. regulators to tighten multiple rules around the practice.
In case you hadn’t heard, there’s still a North American energy boom going on, and the huge spike in output is straining producers’ ability to get their crude to market. Here in the United States we have the world’s most extensive pipeline network, but even that has been unable to cope with the pace and scope of the fracking boom.It’s fortunate that this derailment occurred in a remote area. Many train routes pass through dense urban areas, and these accidents can be deadly when people are around, as we saw two years ago in the small village of Lac Megantic.Constructing more pipelines would lessen the strain oil production is putting on North America’s rail network, and could end up saving lives. That’s something the President might consider as he continues to mull over the Keystone XL pipeline.UPDATE: Speak of the devil, and he shall appear. A train carrying crude in newer tanker cars designed to more safely transport the resource derailed in rural West Virginia yesterday, spilling cars into the Kanawha River and igniting in a frightening inferno: