I wish to thank Hamilton Community News for the comprehensive two-page spread on rail safety, particularly regarding shipments of crude oil through Hamilton, entitled “What’s coming down the track?” as well as the incisive editorial “Making transport by rail much safer.” (Feb. 20)
Since the tragedy at Lac Mégantic Canadians have grown worried about such shipments, as well they should. The train was apparently filled with fracked crude from the Bakkan Field in North Dakota and contained highly-flammable chemicals used during the fracking process. Trains also carry diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the Alberta Tar Sands. If rail cars carrying dilbit derailed and ruptured close to any watercourse, that crude would sink to the bottom, as it did when Enbridge’s pipeline ruptured in Kalamazoo. A billion dollars and three years later, it still has not been completely removed.
Mandatory compliance with tighter safety rules, such as better track maintenance, slower train speeds, reporting dangerous cargos, bigger train crews and safer rail cars, will all help prevent train wrecks. But the best safety rules for trains and pipelines can’t prevent runaway climate change, unless we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.