Trains, pipelines and disasters

On Monday, July 15th, 2013 in Blogs
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Every time I think of what happened in Lac-Mégantic, I have a hard time getting past the sense of total grief that a beautiful little town should have been victim of such a random, devastating and shocking event. It can really only be compared to a town being suddenly, inexplicably bombed in peacetime.

I live in a similar peaceful, pretty, small community. Sidney-by-the Sea is an idyllic spot on southern Vancouver Island (population 10,000), but here, as everywhere else in Canada, we feel as though there has been a death in the family. One of my Rotary friends, who is also on Sidney Council, Kenny Podmore, emailed yesterday to ask for my help as he organizes a fundraiser for Lac-Mégantic for the Monday of the Labour Day weekend. I am so grateful to have a positive, useful way to try to help that wounded community, with its heart ripped out for all the world to see.

Media pundits are busy saying what politicians should and shouldn’t say in times of crisis. I have a hard time faulting Tom Mulcair for saying what seems rather obvious. The legality of leaving that train, unattended, engine on, with 74 railcars full of light crude oil, perched in a spot where should brakes fail, gravity and momentum would send the train barrelling into the community below, was specifically approved by Transport Canada. It is far too early to know all the answers, but I think common sense dictates that some observations are obvious. The failure of the federal government under Stephen Harper’s watch is one of them.

But many other relatively disconnected points come to me and I want to share some of the ones that also (at least to me) fall in the category of blazingly obvious.

  • Pipeline proponents were jarringly quick to try to claim advantage for the pipeline debate. Their opportunism was in poor taste, but also was wrong. As far as I know, no one is proposing a pipeline from North Dakota to New Brunswick.  So opposing the Keystone or Enbridge projects has no bearing on that accident along that route.
  • Trains are generally speaking a very safe way to transport goods – as long as they are properly regulated.  On a percentage basis, pipelines have far more accidents (leaks) than trains.  True, no pipeline accident with bitumen and diluents (dilbit) or with crude or processed oil, could have an accident with so much immediate loss of life.  But that is not actually an argument for pipelines.  It is an argument for regulating pipelines and trains so that the risk of accident is reduced.
  • Municipal governments have a right to know what is moving through their towns.  Hazardous cargo should never be left unattended and should be (as far as is possible) diverted from town centres.
  • It strikes me as bizarre that when discussing terrorist threats no scenario is so far-fetched that law enforcement and the public purse should not be engaged to avert miniscule risks.  But in our day to day lives, more probable and larger risks are ignored because they fall under an area of economic-profitability.
  • The mania against regulation – the call for stream-lining and fast-tracking and industry self-regulation (across many fields and not just rail transport)  – needs to be replaced with a commitment to public safety and environmental protection.
  • Leaking pipelines can constitute their own brand of disaster in loss of life and livelihood.  The fact that pipelines cannot convert themselves into rolling bombs, but instead can destroy a river or farm through leaking noxious contaminants doesn’t make the latter an acceptable option.

The inquiry will take some time. The levels of liability, negligence, issues of criminal negligence, are all issues to be determined.  As the investigation is into a crime, there is the possibility of criminal charges and jail time.  An investigation of this magnitude needs to be respected.  No one should jump to conclusions.  However, sometimes the conclusions leap out on their own and to ignore them is to practice a level of politically-correct speech that defies common sense.

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  • Noah Patterson

    My biggest fear over this is that people will soften on the acceptance of pipelines and move to feeling they are more acceptable risks than carrying by train.

    The debate in media, what little there has been, as been over whether or not we should build more pipelines, not whether or not we should use and produce less oil, as though that’s the crazy option.

    What happened in Lac Megantic is horrible, no question, but this cannot become a discourse on how to transport oil. Absolutely charges of criminal negligence must be laid, standards examined and corrected, all right alongside the question of “how to use less oil”.

    • MikeSmith866

      Noah:

      I totally agree. We have to leave the oil in the ground if we we want to avoid the turning point when the ice caps have totally melted and global warming is irreversible and catastrophic.
      We need a mind set where where we significantly reduce burning fossil fuels and convert to nuclear, wind, solar and bio fuel.

      • Noah Patterson

        Absolutely the environmental considerations are huge. Additionally however, by sticking with fossil fuels we are on a path to economic disaster, right alongside environmental disaster.

        The future of energy is in clean energy, not fossil fuels. The longer we drag our feet the harder and harder it will become to be economically competitive and relevant.

        • MikeSmith866

          I think the answer is a carbon tax. This will make nuclear, wind and solar more competitive and will speed up the conversion from fossil to green energy. The tax collected could be used for incentives for better home insulation, more efficient cars and research into bio fuel.

          • 2enranged

            Sadly the carbon tax collected in BC is going to the Liberal coffers. Large corporations that had projects on the go and would have been completed without the infusion of Carbon Tax $, (Whistler) are being susidized by the tax payer through the CT $. Schools pay CT, it is not returned to the schools to improve their buildings…it goes to friends of the Libs. So Carbon Tax, in it’s present form, is nothing but a tax grab from the people for Corportations.

          • MikeSmith866

            Here is a link on the BC Carbon Tax. http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/tbs/tp/climate/carbon_tax.htm
            According to this, the carbon tax is used for tax reductions to be revenue neutral.

          • 2enranged

            The BC Government carbon tax link is nothing but Liebreal propaganda and does not tell the whole story on what they do with funds collected from the carbon tax. If the Main Stream Media printed the truth on the Carbon Tax there would be more residents upset. The Liebreal Government also said that the HST was revenue neutral but they collected $800 million more than they collected from the PST. How do you reconcil this?

          • mocato

            We in BC also call the Liberals..”the Lieberals” or the “Fiberals” Outside $$$ financed the Libs slick propaganda last election..not illegal, just immoral..that’s the only way they could win. Oh yes..CC also held 2 Mil $ Bollywood (E.I. votes) and an over the top apology for the Chinese..( for their non status back in the early 1900s..more $$$( Chinese votes.) They are systematically turning the once profitable public company that is BC Hydro into a cash strapped one that they can then privatize. Give you ONE guess who will make the big bucks on this

          • Caqlicker

            Interesting, here in Quebec too are discussions about privatizing Hydro Quebec, but i think that idea won’t pass in the population right now.

          • mocato

            bwahahaha

          • mocato

            2enranged know the truth!

          • Volker Seidel

            I hope that you are not serious about nuclear. The only reason why nuclear power is so cheap is because it is heavily subsidized. It would be very expensive if you remove the subsidies and factor in the life-cycle costs. I grew up in Germany and we have a large discussion about finding the first, global nuclear waste disposal site. They store the depleted rods so far in a shed (an actual metal shed) next to a salt mine in Gorleben. They try to find a person who can guarantee that the nuclear waste will be safe in the salt mine for the next million years. Politicians are in office for four years in Germany and I bet they will find a numb nut that will guarantee the safety for the next million years. There is no official nuclear waste disposal site on the planet yet and we should be careful to account nuclear power as the solution for clean energy in my opinion.

          • MikeSmith866

            Candu6 is being developed so that it can consume spent fuel rods from conventional nuclear plants and use them as fuel (see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/untested-nuclear-reactors-may-be-used-to-burn-up-plutonium-waste-8061660.html )

            Yes, Germany went off nuclear from pressures of the Green Party after Fukushima but it appears they are coming back to nuclear again.

          • Caqlicker

            What would happen of a “spent” plant? Does it self consume without wastes?

          • MikeSmith866

            Yes exactly. The plutonium that was partially consumed in a conventional nuclear plant is completely consumed in the test plant they are building in Scotland.
            When they take the fuel out of the second plant there is no disposal problem.

          • Caqlicker

            What i meant is what would happen of the “plant” itself once it’s utility life’s gone?

            You know here the roads and bridges supposed to last “50 years” are as good as ruines after 25 years. Hey they’re collapsing on passengers going under!

          • MikeSmith866

            The generation 3 plants are designed to last up to 60 years with periodic refurbs.
            The cents per kwh must include a component for decommissioning which includes removal of the concrete and any spent fuel. Decommissioning typically come to about 1% of total costs.

          • Caqlicker

            That money talk doesn’t say “where” and “who” would take care of that concret and spent fuel…

          • MikeSmith866

            Its the nuclear plant owner that is responsible for decommissioning. Often that is the government.

          • Caqlicker

            It’s a great magician… Pouf! No more nuke!

          • MikeSmith866

            Here is a link on various approaches to decommissioning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_decommissioning

          • Caqlicker

            “The reactor pressure vessel being transported away from the site for burial.”

            I took that from your link, so it’s “burial”, that doesn’t say “where”?

            Unless you talk about fusion made behind magnetic fields as in France, i don’t see any “secure” way to use it. Even magnetic fiels emits pollution, but one of another kind, the kind we don’t see with our eyes.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Prior generations failed at every design objective.

            The time for these lies is over.

          • MikeSmith866

            Craig:

            I have been doing some reading on tidal and flow power and there is huge potential if we could just figure it out.

            Nova Scotia is trying to get the Bay of Fundy to work, see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/slowly-but-surely-nova-scotia-sees-progress-in-developing-tidal-technology/article13945483/ but the greatest progress is being made in Scotland.

            There are also possibilities with flow power like you would find in a river or in an ocean current. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/08/seeing-deep-green-with-low-velocity-tidal-power?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-August28-2013 . The potential is huge, we just need to find the technology.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Not really interested in any generation discussion, thanks.

            Micro-grids and improved control and efficiency is the main way we will make 21st century housing and industry work.

            The main promise of the projects you mention is to find ways to use very small heads like under one metre, to generate reliable power.

            We dont really need new “baseload” megaprojects for power generation, and if we have any, they’ll likely be run of the river hydro or geothermal boreholes which last a long time and do not require maintenance. As batteries and other storage improve, we can rely more on PV which has no moving parts and is increasingly paint on or printable. Or wind which technology has improved immensely in recent years.

          • MikeSmith866

            Craig:
            I think that as roof top solar panels and batteries get cheaper and more efficient, single family homes that are 2 floors high (not shaded) will be able to go off grid.

            Rural homes with lots of land may also be able to go off grid with geothermal.

            But high rise residential and commercial buildings will need to be served from a grid.

            Its hard to imagine a large city with a core of high rise buildings being served from a micro grid because it will consume so much power with few sources of its own.

            But suburban communities with largely single family dwellings might get by with a micro grid.

            An interesting development is the electric car with a 1,000 pound battery that needs to be charged every night. Roof top panels might not produce enough power so this will auger for more dependence on a grid.

            I have not got very warmed up about a 2 way grid with net metering. The costs of getting that all to work may be greater than the energy saved. We will have to wait and see how all that works out.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Nonsense. No Candu6 will ever be built.

            The price per watt of large fission steam plants has gone UP for at least thirty years while all other sources except fossil have gone down.

            There are no commercially viable thorium or small scale solid fuel reactors. There is no commercial viable fusion. These paths may have long term value and should stay in the labs.

            However, new large scale commercial fission steam plants are inherently dangerous, expensive, and failed at every objective they ever had. These projects are scams and deserve no public support.

          • MikeSmith866

            Certainly my last choice is nuclear. We are producing nuclear power in Ontario for under 6 cents per kwh from refurbed reactors.

            The only places you are likely to see CANDU6 is in Scotland https://oci-aic.org/news/members-in-the-news/candu-proposal-would-see-four-reactors-burning-mox-in-pu-disposi/ or China http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=china-goes-nuclear-to-avoid-coal-burning

            The issue with wind and solar is the inconsistency. But as grid battery prices come down, then our need for other mainstream power like nuclear will decline.

            I mentioned in another post about tidal and flow power. The potential here is huge if we can figure it out. These could become main stream power to eliminate any need for nuclear.

            Geothermal should be getting off the ground. People in rural areas with lots of land can make a go with geothermal even today.

          • Craig_Hubley

            6 cents per kw/h does not include the refurbishment costs that are amazingly added to every bill including sent to those who are using far less thus paying proportionally more for the dirty nuclear they oppose.

            6 cents is still far more than the cost of swapping older lights for LEDs, insulating water heaters, and so on. This marginal incremental economic cost is what we ought to be comparing to: Spend $1B on efficiency or on generation? Efficiency will win almost every time.

            Battery and storage technology is improving, yes, but controls that actually schedule discretionary or schedulable usage (freezing, pumping, some heating) are far more cost effective as they eliminate much of this peak load. No one sane would dream of pumping a water tower with electricity at peak times, as cities and other institutional users typically pay the real price of it. But we let sumps, freezers, etc. come on on-demand all the time with no attempt to schedule the usage or set multiple thresholds.

            In order the investments should be 1. efficiency at endpoint 2. controls to schedule usage off peak 3. district storage not practical on household scale 4. district scheduling or generation not practical on household scale 5. household generation 6. large scale generation.

          • MikeSmith866

            No the 6 cents includes the refurbishment costs which are borne by the operator.

            But I still agree that we should be looking at solar, wind and batteries that will serve us better over the longer term.

            I also agree with your priorities in the last paragraph. I think industries can save more than residences through load shifting. Its possible to do your dishes and laundry at night but most other things you do like cooking, watching television and computer work have to be done according to the schedule of your life not the schedule of the power companies.

            There is so much more we could do to insulate our homes. The biggest issue is probably windows and ideally we would be better off without them.

          • wraven44

            There also needs to be social readjustment including revamping the infrastructure and society of cities so that informed collective intelligent use can take place. Decentralized power sources have significant social consequences that centralized hierarchical power provision cannot touch. We are organized unsustainably just as surely as we use resources unsustainably; both need to change.

          • neroden

            Just to be snarky — there is one commercially viable fusion reactor. It’s called the Sun. :-)

          • Old enough

            I’m glad you are speaking out against nuclear power. That is not a solution. People include it with wind and solar but it is a different kettle of fish altogether. Nobody anymore talks about the spent nuclear rods and where they go. That used to be a big issue but I don’t hear anything about it lately..

          • wraven44

            Remember Fukushima and bear in mind that the trend of climate change is Ma Nature whacking things ever harder in her pained enraged fury. The lesson from paradise of rural BC is that nowhere is secure from natural disaster, so the precautionary principle should apply. Don’t fool around with stuff you can’t clean up and get a grip on reality first.

          • mocato

            Carbon tax IS collected in BC by the Libs. Goes to big corporations so they can “ostensibly” find greener measures. Yeah right. Cash cow for the Libs. Period

          • Caqlicker

            Wrong! Here in Quebec we’re already hugely taxed and guess what? Since two years i’ve already seen 4 Lamborghinis on the road in Quebec city a 700 000 habitants town…

            We pay taxes around 33% at the price pump plus another “bonus” on the weight and power of the vehicules we register with the licences plates. And i don’t really feel it’s a matter our government want to address. I think that reversly it’s now a profitable avenue it can’t release from, as a drug addict.

            Worse, when i asked the company supposed to commercialise the well known “moteur-roue” or drive-wheel(an electric drive installed in the wheel our researchers in Hydro-Quebec IREQ developped) the specs i must give them to get some of those drives or an estimate of their prices, i receive as an answer that they don’t produce such things, that the SAAQ(Société de l’Assurance Auto du Québec(our organism that regulate the road transportation system)) would not allow. When i evoke the matter of life or death that could occure of such behavior they answer me they’re about a hundred employees “living” from such company by doing other things…

            Really the matter won’t be addressed by raising taxes, the history is showing right now that it won’t do that effect.

            Millions are flowing to Lac Mégantic now, they just want to know how much would be necessary to make you accept this tragedy…

          • MikeSmith866

            I agree that a carbon tax of 8 cents per litre is not going to make much difference on its own.

            The key to making this work is speeches from the Prime Minister, Mintister of the Environment and others making a huge deal about global warming and providing a list of things we can do to reduce our carbon emissions.

            We have to get people to understand the implications of a warming planet for their grandchildren their grandchildren’s grand children.

            With proper promotion, the effect would be very good.

          • MikeSmith866

            Actually Quebec already has a carbon tax so my suggestion doesn’t apply to you.
            Now one aspect of the carbon tax is that all the tax is returned to the people in the form of tax reductions in other areas, incentives for better insulation, more efficient cars or green energy research. I have the impression that this aspect is not being applied fully in Quebec.

          • Caqlicker

            I thought one main aspect was to slow down the use of carbon? Where did i miss something? Is the tax used as an improvement of benefits for all or a discarding incentive?

            Is it “bribing” or “punishment”? I really think i missed something on that…

          • MikeSmith866

            The key is the music that goes with the carbon tax. The Prime Minister or Premier and the Ministers of Environment have to get out and make speech after speech about Global Warming. They have to talk about the extreme weather around the world and the damage it does to our crops, forests and homes. They have to talk about the significance of the melting of our ice caps which could make global warming unstoppable. They have to talk about crop failures from droughts and floods that could seriously constrain our food supply. They have to talk about sea level rise and how it could wipe out coastal cities around the world.

            If they tell the story behind the carbon tax then people will listen and get more efficient cars, get better insulation for their homes and use public transportation. They will elect governments that will take global warming seriously,

            If they simply introduce a carbon tax, nothing will happen.

          • Caqlicker

            Well that’s the sensibility we have here in Quebec, unfortunately, the exact same government that “possess” the solution to those problems don’t act accordingly. Worst, it let medias promote oil use as seen in a radio station in Montreal, “The first one that come at the station with a big V8 engine win a t-shirt!”. (i don’t think he talked vegetable juice here)

            Since 1996 we know here in Quebec that our researchers in the IREQ Hydro-Quebec were on the way to make a car run on electricity. That car was a lot of poudns(hundreds of kg) lighter then the traditional counterpart and after some tests founds out a lot more powerful than oil or gas cars. About 100hp and 1200Nm per wheel. The best is all those parts removed from old motor unit, don’t require anymore maintenance, and the newer so few it would close any garage.

            Here i’d really like to know what they think of that in the ROC for i’m tired to be spoiled this way.

          • MikeSmith866

            Well less than 4% of power in Quebec comes from fossil fuels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HQ_supplies_2007.svg so you are pretty well there already.

            I don’t think Quebec has much room for improvement on reducing carbon emissions. Its the model for the rest of us to follow.

            Manitoba, Yukon and British Columbia are also mostly water power.

            Ontario gets just 9% of its power from fossil fuels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HQ_supplies_2007.svg thanks to nuclear power.

            The culprits are Alberta, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan that get over half of their power from coal. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Canada

          • Caqlicker

            The transports still represent 43% of our total GES(gazs à effet de serre(i don’t know how you call it in english)) emissions so we benefit a lot from what has already been done in regard of domestic electrification, but there’s still more to do. And i want you to look at the communities that don’t always beneficited from those “investments” i’m talking about the first nations that were there and from whom we’re changing the environnement.

            The transports are the next thing to change and the will doesn’t lack from the people, but from the government that is supposed to represent them.

            Industries comes and go, as men and women, so why would i care about that?

            We could always use hydrogen extracted directly from water to power our engines, it would be cleaner, but the oil and transports industry don’t want to, so farewell!

          • MikeSmith866

            Yes, in English we call them Green House Gases (GHGs).

            The solution for transportation is a competitive non food bio fuel. We are not there yet. Research is looking at fast growing grasses, algae and sewage but they have not yet found anything that can be produced at a reasonable price.

            Any province can produce 100% economical green electricity from hydro, nuclear and wind. We have the technology. The “Holy Grail” is a reasonably priced non-food bio fuel. This would allow us to produce close to 100% green energy.

          • Caqlicker

            Well the wrong in your equation is the “production”. The bio-fuel must come from “wastes” not from “production”. That’s why economists views are failing.

            And you don’t aknowledge the fact systems can use water as in HHO systems or Pantone systems those would permit to still use the long developped internal combustion engines again for another age. But since electric wheel-drives makes a better use of technology, that’s not what i would promote anymore. People do have something else to do better then check the car to the garage for a lamp that lits for an age old technology that is no longer in his time. We do have something else to do! Electric drives don’t need extra support or attention, they work or they broke, when they broke, change them and go on. It’s way faster then now, it’s as fast as changing a tire…

          • MikeSmith866

            Its pretty hard to drive a truck or tractor on electricity.

            Electrification of our railroads would also be prohibitive because of the low traffic flows.

            Burning hydrogen has its problems because it is very explosive and corrosive.

          • Caqlicker

            How hard? Because of the weight of the batteries? It’s already weight prohibitive. Remove the engine and transmission then add some weight in the wheels, then remove tanks and replace by batteries, you’ve already got some more weight you can allow to the haul. The railroads already work on electricity somes tolds me. It’s diesel generator for electric drives. It appeared the torque required to apply to the train broke the transmissions, so now it’s diesel-electric… I don’t know why but the industrial applications are always well in advance from the everyday user in some scientific and technologic applications…

            It’s some kind of ironic situation, the transporter of the so needed fuel for our everyday usage is himself beneficiting from technology that allow him bigger haul with lesser energy usage for a maximum of profits…

          • MikeSmith866

            Well the battery in a Tesla Model S weighs 1,000 pounds to give a battery range of 300 km. You can extend this to be pretty heavy battery for an 18 wheel truck.

            Yes, some of our train engines are electric but they are powered with oil to operate the generator.

            Now you seem to be arguing that we already have the technology. So are you saying that the conversion to electric trucks and trains is just an “attitude problem”.

          • Caqlicker

            The technology “is” there, but hidden from most for the profits of somes. Even batteries are old technologies, now we’re lurking on high power capacitors or supercapacitors, some young brains already got new materials at test and got some rewards for that.

            http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/competitions/international-science-and-engineering-fair/winners.html

            Those ideas are not new, Philip Jose Farmer while writing his “Riverworld” described vehicules running electric with capacitors charged from lightnings.

            The head is yours, you talk about “attitude problem” i just don’t know how to call it, but facts are there. How much oil do they use for what they’re hauling? I’m no longer talking about trucks, i talk about “cars” they’re far more numerous, and their use of less oil will give the go for the trucks to switch. Now we have hybrids, but is that stolen technology from us? And since they don’t use the best way to reduce masses are they “crapifying” the thing? I sure ask the question.

            Myself i tried to get an hand on those wheel-drives for research and development purpose, but no chance, the company that is supposed to sell them, tell me the SAAQ doesn’t want to…

          • Caqlicker

            Also M Smith, something less known about the electric wheel-drives is the fact they are retro-usable, they can be used to “produce” energy. That fact i remember was talked about at the showing of that project. And since it doesn’t appear i would be able to do the research i dare to do, and for everyone to lose profits from that project we’ve been robbed from, i’ll explain you the real interest in those drives. Now you know from the “Tesla” users that the acceleration is incredible, about the range of a porsche 911, five or four seconds to get to 100kph. Now say you need five seconds to get to that nice cruising speed, or even a little under like 90kph. Once there, the speed is nice because there is no yet big aerodynamic strain on the car, the energy required to maintain the speed is very little, now put some or all of your drives to work and let them “produce” energy…

            When would you stop?

            And who would benefit? No oil company for sure, even Hydro wouldn’t with that kind of technology…

            I feel like we’ve been robbed in Quebec, then bombed in Lac Megantic for the sake of “canadians interests” as we can call the tar sand industry. We’ve build plants for Hyunday, to no awail, we’ve given subventions to GM, Ontario got the stake. I am really tired of that canadian behavior i think we’ve given enough right now.

            Now if i tell you russian torpedos do benefit from technology that allow them great speeds underwater, like 400 kph, the hydrodynamic strain would be very large, but they achieved that, apply that technic on the cars… No i wouldn’t think about that unless we remove the tires…

          • Craig_Hubley

            All agreed.

            “Supply side” economics is simple fraud.

          • Craig_Hubley

            Nova Scotia is now below 50% coal power thanks largely to its major wind and efficiency initiatives. That’s a huge shift from 80% just a few years ago.

            Many new builds use geothermal heat, all use passive solar and geothermal techniques (including concrete to the roof line well insulated on the outside to conserve maximum heat and cool inside), and renewables like wood for spot heating.

            Even in remote rural regions we see plug in electric cars at least a dozen times a year now. Probably mostly tourists…

            Former coal regions like Amherst use the old coal shafts for geothermal district heating, and have large wind farms visible from the Trans-Canada highway, and also viable companies selling LED lighting for roadways etc.

            Cape Breton is the sad exception with coal mines always being explored for re-opening, pulp mills propped up, and so on… Mainland NS is actually on a very positive track.

      • i’maniceone

        Why is electricity so high $$ ?
        Electricity cannot be killed – it is everywhere and the cost is in harnessing it and disbursing it – however to me it is the obvious source for safely operating everything on our earth including us. It cannot be used up ever. Money poured into pumping out oil, cleaning it and disbursing it could be put to better use.

        • MikeSmith866

          Electricity has different costs depending on whether it is made from water, nuclear, gas, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal or whatever.

          Water power is the best but most of the good locations already have dams. It would appear that nuclear is second best but then people are scared of nuclear. But it really isn’t so bad, see http://science.time.com/2013/06/21/radioactive-green-pandoras-promise-rethinks-nuclear-power/ .

          The problem with coal and oil is the huge carbon footprint. We should no longer look at fossil fuel on price alone. We have to include the price of damage from extreme weather on the Danube, Ganges, Elbow, Don and Humber Rivers. This amounts to over 3 billion dollars in just the last 2 months.

          • anonamoose

            IF people do things properly there is little worry for safety. However, In REALITY, corners get cut to save costs, and the end result is NOT safe. That’s just the way it goes.

            Unless the government is funding it, and no one has to worry about saving the money, in which cases, they usually overspend and ppl cry bloody murder. So privatized energy companies should not be allowed to build reactors, Period, in my opinion.

            Personally I feel the answer lies NOT in finding fuel alternatives.

            They have already been discovered.

            The answer lies is forcing our government to turn their backs on their CORPORATE sponsors, and do what is RIGHT by their conscience. Boycott oil companies and vote with your money. That’s all they seem to pay attention to.

            Hydrogen engines, for example; have been around for over 15 years. Yet boats still pollute lakes and oceans with oil, gas, and diesel rather than use hydrogen engines, which would leave no pollution. Why?? because it costs hundreds of $$ to fill up a boat, so they make a killing off boats that use gas and diesel every year.

            To be perfectly honest, the only REAL solution to this problem, is for People in general to wake up and realize that this addiction to convenience and technology is the cause of pollution and destruction.

            Industrial machines and Technology have only been here for not even 100 years, and look at the damage to multiple cultures and peoples all over the world?

            What people aren’t taught, is that thousands of years ago, sages from all over the middle east (as there were no developed philosophical civilizations in the western world at that time in history) gathered all the greatest minds and wise men from all over, to solve once and for all the great mysteries of life and happiness and suffering.

            They wrote the Vedas, and the Upanishads, which are the collected wisdom of thousands of years of humanity doing nothing but thinking, and meditating, and they were far more in touch with nature, the world, and their own humanity than any modern man.

            The Vedas and Upanishads provide the knowledge to all people, of all cultures, on how to live a positive and happy life without suffering. The trick is to learn to control your desires so that you rule them, rather that satiate yourself in them, and thus become a slave to your desires.

            Unfortunately, people forgot, or rather stopped paying attention to the wisdom of their elders (youthful folly), and we now live in a world where most people who are well off, are in fact suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and are NOT happy with their place in life, or their life in general. Because business can manipulate your suffering into Money. They don’t make much money off of contented people with no wants for flashy cars or big houses, plastic surgery, fancy clothes, and other such material desires.

            If humanity wants to survive in the long run, Humanity needs to turn it’s back on industry and technology, and remember the ancient wisdom of thousands of years of soul searching. Return to our roots, in nature and spirit, to heal our planet and our species. (And no i’m not a hippy, I’m actually an old school punk rock kid, but common sense is common sense). Otherwise we ride headlong into a way of life that is in direct conflict with many peoples core values, and that leads only to depression, and stagnation.

            Cell phones, TV, and other forms of media are meant to keep people distracted and to prevent you from being able to attain inner peace. To keep you in a state of wanting, so that you will consume, and keep the cash flow going.

            Business doesn’t want people to meditate, and focus, and stop wanting more more more! So they intentionally keep you in a state of Techno-Mania (The need to keep up with new information and technology, which is being produced at a faster rate than it can be processed, usually exhibited by feelings of extreme Anxiety, Mania, and/or Culture Shock from the rapid change of culture within one’s own culture).

            Suffice it to say, We need leaders like Ghandi running the ship, not business men.. Business Men will lead countries to ruin simply to line their own pockets…

            But that requires people to take the time to practice self discipline, and meditate, and be in control of yourself..
            Not so easy when we are taught to be greedy little babies with no concept of self control in western culture.

            But it can be done. If you want to be truly happy you’ll find the time to make it happen.

          • Adam Oates

            There is wisdom in what you say, but also a certain level of of naiveté. Back when these wise men wrote this book, what was the average life expectancy? 30 years? 40? People died from small infections, minor colds, and their teeth. I’m in no hurry to get back to that. I like my iPhone and movies and the fact that I can travel to the next town in a manor of hours instead of days/months. I do, however, agree that moderation is important. Of course, no one can mandate moderation. What we can, and should, do is eliminate the money from politics in every way we can, and find a way to ensure that the cost we pay for things is the true cost – no more subsidies.

        • mocato

          in BC one word..Liberals

        • ienvan

          Nice dream, but In our present state of knowledge electricity has to be generated. This is still mainly done by fossil fuels. Yes, we need to transition to a grid that is both localized and sustainable. We have a long way to go. Meanwhile fossil fuels, including coal, are used to generate much of that electricity that looks so clean and free at the point of use.

          • Caqlicker

            In Quebec it is not coal generated. Plus we are producing extras that we can’t sell properly for the coal and gas producing plants are not charging the real prices. We even “build” wind generators while we have extra hydro power raising the offer again and making the prices drop more.

            But that could be an attempt for the libs to make Hydro Quebec appear as a losing asset.

    • Craig_Hubley

      Noah, the PURPOSE of this incident WAS TO CREATE SUPPORT for dirty oil pipelines. The motive is there, the opportunity is there, and the money trail is clear. This was mass murder to justify a political agenda and industrial agenda that could not have been justified without massive death.

  • John Grogan

    It seems that Transport Canada may have been asleep at the switch.
    Where was the DERAIL safety device.

  • Joe

    To a rational person the idea of putting a whole town at risk of being incinerated just to save a few man hours worth of labour is utterly absurd. As long as we continue to allow sociopathic money addicts to make their own rules, they will continue to engage in risky behavior just to save a few bucks, while offloading the consequences to others, because that is their nature. If we are too foolish to see that, then we can expect many more disasters like this.

    • MikeSmith866

      From what I can gather from the CBC it was not really about man hours. It was about applying enough manual brakes on the tank cars. It seems the rules on manual braking are not clear so it sounds like they will have to come up with a rule that says e.g. “every third car”.

      I am also of the suspicion that the brakes might not have been working properly. It would seem that if the train was not moving when the guy went to bed that the train would have stayed stationary. So I am thinking there is a possibility that some of the brakes may have let go. Because everything is pretty much cinders, its hard to check for this type of thing.

      • Duderina27

        It was about man hours. Before this CEO stepped in, the company had a policy of a two-man minimum. Then he came and cut cut cut, in order to save dollars.

        • Janet697

          Burkhardt is apparently known in the industry for always blaming others for all the companies problems and always laying off and firing workers.

          • Duderina27

            Exactly

          • Avril

            I knew, from early on, that the poor engineer would be blamed. I feel such sorrow for him.

        • Craig_Hubley

          No, this was not done “to save dollars”, it was done to kill people and justify dirty oil pipelines. Follow the real money and you’ll see the cause very clearly.

          There are reasons why measures taken long ago in the US for rail safety were not taken in Canada. Someone wanted this “accident”, and it’s quite clear who benefits.

      • Heather Frenette

        With the load it was carrying, the train should never have been left unattended. I can’t help but thinking that is there had been someone on board, he could have stopped it’s headlong rush into the town.

        • MikeSmith866

          Heather:
          I am guessing that there are thousands of train sections sitting on train sidings unattended across Canada. The nature of the train business is trains have to be stopped for reforming or rescheduling many times as they cross Canada.

          I am guessing that fixing the brakes and setting proper braking standards would cost about %1 of what it would cost to put an operator on board of every waiting train section. And it might get the job done better.

    • Janet697

      I have been looking for an email from an american man who was a train engineer for most of his life. He is american and was commenting on huffinton post about the rail tragedy. He told me he almost went to work for MM&A rail but at the last minute decided not to. He told me the engines they use are made by GE and that they always have fires onboard just like the night of the disaster. He also said the tanker cars were not sufficent in thickness. The other little tidbit he left me with is Mr Burkhardt the big boss is nothing but a demeaning boss who always finds ways to blame others for whatever may go wrong. This railroad has since the Lac Megantic wreck already had another derailment and their rails and bridges are in horrible shape. They should not be allowed to operate in Canada at all.

    • Craig_Hubley

      This isn’t what happened. As stated above it was a deliberate mass murder by the Conservative Party of Canada and its dirty oil moving donors.

  • Lucie

    Lisa Raitt ne s’est pas engagée à parler de montant d’argent. Ils ont donné 165 milions pour Haïti et annulé la dette, c’est quand même bizarre qu’elle n’a pas pu donner un montant. Ça se passe au Canada cette tragédie.

    • Caqlicker

      Ils ont dit qu’ils suivraient Québec, donc ils vont mettre 60 millions, je me demande jusqu’où ira la mise?

      Combien pour une vie? Combien pour 50? Combien pour un village? Ensuite ce sera les compagnies d’assurance, mais personne ne peut nous dire où est leur responsabilité?

      Faut dire qu’on a l’habitude de ne s’attendre à rien du Canada au Québec, on attend encore pour la crise du verglas ça fait déjà pas mal de temps qu’elle est passée…

  • Louise

    Thank you for being a voice of reason during this time. I too was amazed at how quickly the whole thing became a debate about pipeline vs train. Not only do pipelines leak (often), but they are also not immune to explosions – there have been several instances around the world of pipeline explosions with multiple fatalities (e.g., San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2010). I wish the debate could focus on the important issues: how do we wean ourselves off oil & gas, how do we use less (and safer) energy, and how do we live a healthier lifestyle both among ourselves as people and communities, and as part of the living environment that surrounds us?

    • Devil in the Details

      just this week on ‘Frontiers of Construction’ series I saw ‘Pipe Dreams’ – it contained footage of a group of pipeline employees training to hoot flares at a ‘leak’ to light it on fire. They claimed all ‘hoped’ it would never be used! BUT the very training says it all!

    • PE Islander

      Exactly – I used to live in Manitoba and the TransCanada gas pipeline exploded one evening. We could see it from 60 miles away!!!! Luckily nobody was hurt because it happened in a rural area but it destroyed a lot of land for ever. It would have been a disaster of unimaginable proportions had it happened in very dry weather with lots of dry mature crops in the fields – it would have set off a huge wildfire.

    • anonamoose

      I think i answered your concerns in my post just above yours.

  • Greg Jackson

    We do not have to be oil “WHORES”, its absurd that we are wasting so much time and energy and destruction to our lovely planet in the pursuit of oil. It was a bad idea in the beginning just as its still a bad idea now. There are safer, cleaner alternatives, lets put our resources there and just stop the whole oil madness now.

    • DidoCarthage

      With all these disasters, the image that comes to my mind, more and more forcefully every time, is of a bunch of junkies trashing their own house – slashing sofa cushions, ripping up floorboards, punching holes in walls – in pursuit of the last crumbs of their drug of choice. Soon there will be none left, and their (our) home will be destroyed as well.

    • simone

      I absolutely agree. It is all about greed period!. It’s not about “the guy with the biggest bank account wins” he loses but doesn’t understand because of his abhorrent greed. We are rapidly losing our humanity and concern for each other and that is terrifying. I admit to being a bit of an idealist but I
      find the corporate, political greed and dishonesty in both venues to be deplorable and corrupt. I hope the folk of Lac- Megantic have a huge class action suit and win. The only way these is to hit their bank balances hard.

      • OneCanuck

        Money is all they understand. Insurance will cover much of the costs and then our rates will go up because of that.

        • SharperCon

          I predict that insurance will not cover the costs. I predict that MM&A will declare bankruptcy. I predict that the provincial and federal governments will be out a huge chunk of cash (as well as the victims of Lac Megantic).

          • Karen Leask

            Well, it won’t be relevant to some of the victims…

          • Craig_Hubley

            Correct. Meaning even a civil case for the mass murder by a Conservative/dirty-oil/rail industry conspiracy has no obvious target.

    • FeelALot

      Agreed. We need to re-prioritize. And there is no sane reason oil & gas companies couldn’t jump on board (and thereby fund, yet retain their companies/jobs) R&D into alternatives. So far, most just don’t WANT to, as their CEOs seem to have real “dinosaur” mentalities.

      But one source to learn about works in progress regarding clean and inventive alternatives is here:

      http://peswiki.com/index.php/Top_5_Exotic_Free_Energy_Technologies

    • wraven44

      You, Sir, are right on the ball.

      So few seem to have the courage to stand up or even speak up against this insane rush over the cliff. It’s a matter of replacing our dependence on fossil fuel, period. That’s a fundamental component of sustainability.

      These miracles of concentrated energy should be being used with high respect and only for purposes of the highest order, not used in the incredibly frivolous and wasteful manner they are by most everybody without thought. It’s just a further manifestation of how disconnected from reality most people in North America are.

  • Steve Bloom

    Pipeline ruptures very much can have similar consequences, recalling the San Bruno disaster of a couple years ago. That was a gas pipeline, but can a similar event with an oil pipeline, especially one containing dilbit, be ruled out?

  • Richard Hamel

    Alors que le gouvernement de l’État du Maine a réagi promptement, à savoir faire inspecter le réseau ferroviaire et la menace de sanction contre les compagnies fautives, notre bon gouvernement de Harper considère qu’il est prématuré d’agir en ce sens( il n’y a eu que 50 morts( juste des Québecois) après tout) ils vont attendre les rapport du BST et autres organismes du genre qui ont déjà proposés des mesures accrues de sécurité. Ce gouvernement conservateur nous aura fait reculer en tant que société comme aucun autre. Vraiment désolant.

  • Chris Armstrong

    If there are deficiencies in the regulation of rail transport, those deficiencies must be corrected as soon as possible. On the other hand, I believe that the rail company is solely responsible for the Megantic disaster and must “pay the piper”.

  • Pi

    How can we contribute to the fundraiser for Lac Megantic?

  • James Bodie

    It was my understanding two days after the accident that the problem was that the engine was NOT on, so the air brakes failed and that contributed to the accident. It is so difficult to get accurate, consistent information… (sigh)

    • Mark

      Air brakes fail in the applied position. Air holds the brakes off, and lack of air pressure causes the brakes to apply. This is why you will sometimes see long skid marks on the highway – air lines to the truck’s trailer fail, air pressure is lost, and the brakes lock.

  • Mamalani

    My understanding of crude oil is that it doesn’t explode the way gasoline explodes so what was actually in those tank cars that exploded so violently?

    And why was that section of track not monitored?

    • Devil in the Details

      BUCKS! … CUTBACKS!

  • Sask Mike

    Check out the chairman of the railway. It is not hard to figure how the conditions that made this crime possible came about- with a little help from his deregulating friends.

  • belle400

    Once again – thank you Elizabeth! I celebrate that Mulcair stated the obvious! I weep that so many accused him of “playing politics” as if silencing him isn’t “playing politics” with this tragedy. So – who benefits and how; who pays and how; when we focus so weirdly on “terrorists threats” but not on the everyday threats that are threatening all of us, including the survival of our species. That is the question we need to be asking and pushing for “evidence” based answers – that is answers ground in actual lived and Earth realities – at all levels of our government and economy. y

  • BobA

    The fact that the pipeline lobby was so fast to jump on this, and that there are so many unanswered questions about how this “accident” occurred, when in context, raises a lot of questions in my mind.

    • HelgaK

      BobA… I was just going to write a similar comment when I stopped at yours. I’ll lend my voice to your very insightful reasoning. An ‘accident’ like this will certainly add fodder to the oil companies’ push for pipelines. Let the dust settle a bit and then watch and listen to what happens a little down the road.

      • MikeSmith866

        In spite of all the problems of constructing and operating pipelines, it is still much cheaper to ship oil by pipeline rather than by rail.

        Rail is popular simply because the pipeline companies have such difficulty in getting permits to build pipelines.

        We can only hope the discussion is somehow directed to leaving the oil in the ground and converting to green energy.

        • Caqlicker

          We can direct those discussions with stats for exemple.

          Since “using” something would permit a greater amount of events including that thing than events that don’t include that thing if not used that’s where we must strike.

          It is not permitted to sell firecrackers here in Quebec for they supposedly are “dangerous” but as i know gaz is not less inflamable since i’m born…

    • Shawna

      Exactly!

  • jim macguigan

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I found out that the crude does not burn by itself. The company probably added unstable elements to make it flow faster. This may be the cause of the disaster.
    More information is to come on this in the near future.

    Jim macguigan
    Science Writer@UBC

    • OK

      Exactly a question that needs to be answered. What exactly is rolling through our towns?

    • Caqlicker

      The oil like diesel need “heat” to ignite, but that could have been provided by malfonctionning brakes. Those could have generated the heat necessary to ignite.

      But the benzen avenue should nontheless be examinated…

  • J. David Cox

    This is yet another example of cutting costs for the benefit of the corporate bottom line but at the expense of the public good. Of course, we are over-regulated in some instances but, after years of neo-con hacking, we are now under-regulated in a number of sensitive other areas. They are not hard to find. Think money….see de-regulation. Think loss of freedoms…see over regulation. It may be too much to conclude a plot to enslave the people (a smidge dramatic, perhaps), but that is the result. The people are left cowering and bereft, the government and the elites raking in the dough and wreaking havoc in all ways greedy and corrupt. All I can add is that I hope it escalates. Gets worse. Because it is not bad enough for the people yet. When they get mad, it will change. So, it is going to get worse before it gets better simply because we are just plain too damn tolerant of this kind of subtle exploitation.

  • toby dent

    The people in charge of trains or pipelines or hazardous chemicals/nuclear or not…have no respect for human life or the environment. They are also incompetent. That’s obvious by now. So government regulation is crucial. That Transportation Canada specifically OK’d this incident is criminal behaviour. They should also be sued as should the man behind the throne…Harper. Where is he hiding today? Enough is enough.

  • Elizabeth

    Once again…Well said, Elizabeth ! Indeed ‘ sometimes conclusions leap out on their own ‘ and ‘common sense could have prevented this horrific accident on EVERY level. Let’s go back to the day before ” it’s not my job “. There shouldn’t need to be a written regulation do do the job properly and safely.

  • intrepix

    Nobody will ever convince me that this wasn’t an act of vandalism simply because there is no way, that all the air tanks, in all the cars would have lost their air but assuming the impossible happened. One rail car, with just one manual brake set, would have been sufficient to keep the entire train stationary. Now, let’s assume that there was no manual brake applied to any of the cars, the likelihood of the train rolling down the track would have had a problem simply because the entire train was switched off onto a siding. The switch would have been closed to the siding and left open for any other trains to pass through. There are just too many factors that lead to there being one answer and it relates to somebody vandalizing this train and causing this train to roll down the tracks through the switch and onto the main line.

  • Monique Robillard

    Merci, Mme May, pour cette prise de position, somme toute modérée.
    Comme vous, je ne crois pas que la tragédie de Lac-Mégantic serve de quelle que façon que ce soit à promouvoir le transport par pipelines et je suis d’accord que l’enquête sur ce terrible accident doive suivre son cours de façon sérieuse et minutieuse.
    Je crois cependant que, dès à présent, il faille réviser à la hausse les mesures de sécurité à exiger pour le transport de matières dangereuses et surtout ne pas accepter de droits acquis.
    Les trains qui traversent des zones urbaines devraient être tenus de le faire suffisamment LENTEMENT pour minimiser, sinon éliminer totalement, les risques de déraillements (j’ai peine à croire, avec toute la surveillance électronique qui existe de nos jours, qu’il ne soit pas possible de s’assurer que des vitesses maximales réduites ne soient observées dans les zones en question).

  • Dinwood

    I just want to say that I always find these blog posts to be highly informative, and I appreciate the rational analysis that goes into them. Messages I get from the other parties are too full of spin to be of any value.

  • Gary Ross

    Listening to a voice like this reminds me that for far too long we have been electing Political Parties instead of humans.
    .
    It is like expecting a corporation to develop a heart or a mind.
    Then we say: “Oh. politicians are all the same”.

    They are not!

    It is we who keep doing the same thing.

    A third of us now use this excuse for not voting.

    Walking to the polling station is the easy part.
    What we say when we arrive there, at the gateway to democracy,depends on us first listening with our heart/mind.
    The Greens, Liberals and New Democrats, in alphabetical order, have to play a role in this awakening.

  • Denis Pellerin

    I read an article today in the Waterloo Region Record by
    Mary-Jane Bennett from Troy Media/troymedia.com. Her approach is not one of
    fear and blame per say, but of what’s wrong with the outdated rail system that
    needs to be brought up to this century for today’s needs and our future safety.

    • Caqlicker

      And what about our so old school car motorization? Did you heard about wheel-drive developped by Hydro-Québec? That would extinguish our need for oil in transport operations of our day to day lives.

      Ask TM-4 what they’re doing with our technology, they don’t want to sell or produce as i’ve been told. And it’s SAAq the responsible it appear…

      Now i ask you: what’s wrong with our politics and industry leaders? Ho i get it, it’s all about profits changing hands!

  • jrosgen

    Pipelines also run through towns and cities, as per the Kinder Morgan spill in Burnaby a few years ago. Had that been diluent and a spark had been present, we would have seen a disaster of the kind and magnitude as in Lac-Magantic. Lack of regulations and proper oversight are rampant throughout the oil industry, and this government is doing nothing to improve the situation. In fact, they are exacerbating it with removal of environmental restrictions, and cutbacks in personnel to regulate. They can pass any laws they want with restrictions but until they provide the resources to do the inspections and the penalties for breaking the rules its is all smoke and mirrors.

  • Shane Nestruck

    It is TIME Elizabeth led a REVOLT of Partisan (party ) Politics and found ( there are many good Libs and NDPs and Cons) those other real representatives of the people and banded together to end this travesty of a democratic government,

    Under ANY banner, based upon Integrity, Representing the constituents, and an honest appraisal of the decline in democracy in this country Elizabeth COULD attract a COALITION OF MPS OF INTEGRITY and form a very strong and EFFECTIVE political force for democratic change.

    The news of a group of as few as 4-5 ‘renegade’ MPs abandoning the constraints of the party system WOULD frighten many others into considering the results of

    The next election! Electoral Reform COULD start with the courageous members that are already elected! all we need is a few with the courage to defie the party whips, and START representing the people again!

    Trudeau, Harper and Mulcair are NOT leaders. They are animals born and fed and grown in the corrupt system of party politics. Canada needs LEADERSHIP. As always it takes a few Courageous leaders to start a revolution!

    • Dave in Windsor

      With exception of the first half of the last paragraph of Shane Nestruck’s post, I agree. Canada needs good leadership, presently it is lacking. There are some very good people ‘out there’.

  • Kari Gunson

    Elizabeth, you should pat yourself on the back for syntheisizing and digesting the truth through all the hog wash our current government brain-washes us with. You are a true Canadian leader that wants the best for all Canadians!

  • Brenda Guiled

    As a Facebook friend noted, “It’s him again!” Burkhardt should have been shut down in 1996, not allowed to morph into a new version of the same nightmare.
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/11/lac_megantic_railways_history_of_costcutting.html

  • Shane Nestruck

    Air brakes: Without the engine on and air pressure provided from that engine the brakes are supposed to function! i.e if a car broke away from a train it would lose the connection that keeps its brakes OFF!
    i.e. For the rail car to be able to ‘roll’ it needs a source of air pressure to operate the mechanism that releases the brakes!
    Thus most, if not all of the INFO we are receiving is ‘corporate spin’… Not surprising in that the Harper Gov. is corporate run.

    I also understand that crude does NOT explode as the substances in the rail cars did!

    But this all comes down to DEREGULATION and the continuing Corporate pressure on governments to deregulate EVERYTHING in service to God of Profit!

  • Shane Nestruck

    How many people are aware that Germany has developed the greatest resources of ‘green’ energy while at the same time growing Europes strongest economy. Certainly Harper would NOT allow such information to flow across this country where he cites ‘God The Economy’ every time he means : “my friends profit margin in the oil industry”

    The Economy is what we choose it to be! NOT what harper is PAID to suggest it is.

    • Sleel

      Yeah. The green revolution in German is working wonders for them. Energy Poverty. Soaring energy prices, industries getting crippled. Yup, all lollipops and cookies.

      http://www.thegwpf.org/german-energy-companies-threaten-shutdown-power-plants/

      • SharperCon

        You’re right – the Germans have some issues. It is easy to throw rocks – what do you suggest they do? or what do you suggest we do?

        • Sleel

          Wasn’t throwing rocks, unlike the people who are constantly equating everything to Harper. I was pointing out their Green revolution was crippling Germany, not helping it, like they were trying to make it seems like.

          And I did say. Diff post, much longer. Essentially we need fusion. And buying the claptrap of windmills and solar panels which are failing before even half their rated lifespans are up and killing birds and bats by the tanker load isn’t going to run a modern society.

          Solar and wind doesn’t grow crops, harvest them, preserve them, ship them world wide before it rots. Pretending we can suddenly stop using oil is brain damaged. It is essentially ignoring that doing so reverts us to a steam powered society. One that can only support the billion it could when we once were. So which 6 of 7 of your friends do you choose to die for this ideology?

          People are lighting their hair on fire over fracking while simultaneously condemning the States for not slitting their throats with Kyoto. While ignoring that they have reduced their CO2 output thanks to the massive influx of Nat Gas into their energy supply. Displacing coal fired power generation, thereby lowering their emissions.

          Spain, also touted as a haven of solar panel companies, is shutting off it’s street lights to save money. While the solar panel companies that used to be there are going bankrupt or leaving. Cause they can’t make it without subsidies, and massive ones. Solar is only a supplemental power supply, not a replacement. Satellite generation and microwave beamdown is the only way solar will ever be a massive supplier, Not being handicapped by night, clouds, angle of incidence during winter making it worthless as a source. And I’m talking large scale sats, not little piddling ones. The kinda scale that will take multinational cooperation and years to implement, and long term stuff. And with the way things are on the space front. I expect fusion will come first. New multinational research effort going on there. Based in Europe, tho blanking on where and the name right now. Read bout it a few months back.

          Part I really found telling about all these Green Schemes, is the German efforts that are crippling them, are figured that if they have the effect people claim they will, will delay global warming, if you buy that too, by 37 hours. Value for money, that.

          While the Cap and Trade market in Europe is the haven of Mafia rackets and corruptions, while accomplishing nothing but driving the cost up for consumers

          • Caqlicker

            And what about our Hydro plants here selling under the real cost ’cause of gas and coal plants not selling at their pollution right prices? Is it only to bother quebecers you’re doing that or if you really believe in pollution generating plants?

            Hopefully you didn’t heard of Howard Johnson electric generator…

            That would make a mess of those obnoxious grid lines…

  • KootenayCoyote

    In response to today’s CBC posting on the disaster:

    “The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic, CN and CP have refused to share their special instructions with the CBC, calling them proprietary,…” Just what risk is disclosure, if the rules are plainly adequate? ‘Transport Canada said they can’t release it because “this type of information is not in the public domain, as it involves a third-party.”’ But the activity takes place in the public domain, & the public is also a party (see Lac Megantic). We can only conclude from this that yet another cover-up is taking place; & that appears to be a Federal habit.

    • Kathryn C

      A direct consequence of the move away from government oversight toward industry self-regulation. The Railways make their own safety plan (which the gov rubber-stamps) so it is proprietary.

      The result of which is the people of this country must blindly trust profit-driven corporations are taking care of our safety.

      Simply crazy.

      • Sleel

        Yeah. Cause the government bodies are so open and quick to release information about themselves and their policies. Yup, never any redacting there, no exorbitant processing fees on FIPA requests. No obfuscation on MP and Senate spending. Yup. Only government regulation from bureaucrats entitled to their entitlements and the politicians who give them their marching orders creates openness.
        Spare me the party. Ain’t any better here provincially under the Dippers of Manitoba.

  • Karen Lewis

    Thank you for expressing what so many of us think and feel so eloquently, Elizabeth!

  • Shane Nestruck

    RE: Lucie and Richard Hamel’s comments:

    Absolutement mes confreres!

  • Nick Gurnick

    For starters the owners of that rail company should have had 2 engineers on that train. That way there would be no need for it to stop until it reached it’s destination. At that time both engineers should have ran a complete safety check. Letting the owners conduct there own inspections is like having a criminal drive him/or herself to jail. This is totally ridiculous & irresponsible of this government.

    • Russell

      I had to read down through the comments to see if the response I wanted to post was posted. So I agree with your statement wholeheartedly. From personal experience, and common sense, if a job is so critical that one man alone is responsible for such a potential disaster then the company has failed.

  • Concerned Gram

    Thank heaven for your voice of reason in Ottawa, along with Tom Mulcair. When will the general populace of Canada realize that Corporate Canada and the Conservatives who support them do not care about much other than profits. They do not care about our Environment or the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of all Canadians who DO care!

    • anonamoose

      Unfortunately it is the americanized canadians who do this. The ones who live in florida half the year.. The ones who own businesses in canada and the US.. They are; unfortunately, the majority… And the rest of us feel oppressed, so we don’t bother voting saying to ourselves this system is rigged! or, There’s no point to voting, they’re all evil bastards!.. But the businessmen, they vote for the party who’s gonna cut their taxes. They vote for the guy who’s gonna de-regulate stuff for them. The rest of us sit back and shake our heads in frustration… But you know, you can formally decline your vote at the polls.. there’s a higher percent of people who formally decline their vote, all the candidates have to step down, new candidates get picked, and a NEW election gets held.. If they choose another snake to run.. decline your votes again.. this is what our Grandparents used to do to FORCE the parties to actually follow through with their promises, otherwise they’d NEVER get elected.. and elections would never conclude… Our government doesn’t want ppl to remember that option.. they have driven us so close to a two party system, they like the lack of competition in the political spectrum (remember when Canada had MULTIPLE parties on the right and left ??) and the lack of accountability they are held to these days…

  • Win Nowell

    Now is the time for Canada to look at EVERY alternative to this mad pursuit of oil. There has been little mention of the despoiling of nature by perhaps the largest tree clearcut in British Columbia’s history to lay down the pipes carrying the infamous toxic chemically treated poisonous bitumen! As for fracking – wake up Canadians! Please remember the shocking picture of someone turning on their water tap in an area of fracking and flames came out of the tap instead of water. It made headlines (perhaps for only a day as our media seem to have short memories) but this madness has to stop.

    Remember, we are nearly all parents, grandparents or know people who are? Do we want to go down in history as a generation who left nothing but a polluted earth for our next generations?

    By the way, it was determined that the brakes were the cause of the terrible Lac Megantic shocking disaster. We need more not less regulation.

    Thank God for Elizabeth May and I mean that in all sincerity!

  • dave0ferg

    Of course those responsible—corporation(s), workers and regulators– should be charged and punished proportional to culpability and pay scale, all through due process.

    But we, the people, should realize that every time we comp0lain about the price of gas, we facilitate the companies cutting back on safety measures and the staff that monitors them. When we complain about taxes, we encourage government to cut back on the enforcement of regulations to the point where they are meaningless. We should let the corporations and government know that we are all too willing to accept higher prices and taxes if we are assured that these monies go to protecting the public good and ^NOT^ to unconscionable bonuses to greedy executives and fraudulent senators.

  • Peter Miller

    Thank you Elizabeth! Your messages are always so full of common sense and so refreshing to read something truthful coming out of Ottawa!
    This statement really explains the crazy world we find ourselves in:
    “It strikes me as bizarre that when discussing terrorist threats no scenario is so far-fetched that law enforcement and the public purse should not be engaged to avert miniscule risks. But in our day to day lives, more probable and larger risks are ignored because they fall under an area of economic-profitability.”

  • Karen Martin Sampson

    As usual you address the issue with common sense and compassion. I totally agree with your statements and hope our leaders, both government and business, wake up and see that “public safety and environmental protection” should be first on the list of considerations, but it does not mean that a healthy economy cannot be part of this.

  • bob boase

    The West continues to live in the 19th century of exploitation and domination of our resources. We need to get off this train track soon before we destroy planet earth. Canada should be at the forefront of this paradigm change but instead we are leading the charge for more oil.

  • Bob Wilson

    It’s true that the Keystone and Enbridge projects have no bearing on what happened in Lac Megantic, but the converse is not true. The well-publicized statistic from before this accident is that oil transportation by rail is five times riskier than transportation by pipeline.

    A piece in the National Post a few days after the accident made the point that the pipeline debate is really a clash of world views between people whose opinion is that oil and development are both bad and people whose opinion is that oil and development are both risky. The former group thinks that Canada’s oil should be left in the ground, while the latter group thinks that the risks can be managed–not eliminated but reduced. And in between, we have political decisions that are not being made with the best scientific input, especially those coming from the Harper government.

    Transportation of crude by rail is increasing. It’s clear that stopping pipeline expansion will not lead to Canadian oil being left in the ground. The market just doesn’t work that way. Those who oppose pipelines should be careful what they wish for.

  • Dukeofmetchosin@gmail.com

    Good day,,oil drives our world,,,and though I am not a supporter of the northern proposed pipeline,,,I will share what’s going on with Kinder Morgen,,,the other day they were declined priority status on the Kinder Morgen pipeline by the NEB of Canada ,,,what this means is the residents of the lower mainland and including the airport are left high and dry,,while Kinder Morgen is free to export it’s oil product,,it won’t happen overnight but if chevron cannot obtain a consistent supply within Canada it may close the refinery in burnaby,,this seems very political to me,,,any oil in Canada should be deemed Canada first.,,,that will mean higher prices for BC including higher airline tickets ,,as the chevron refinery also refines all the jet fuel for the Vancouver airport,,,it feels like a squeeze play!,,

    • brent1023

      To clarify the problem. The Kinder Morgen pipeline handles two types of crude – the usual crude and diluted bitumen. The new pipeline is intended to handle the diluted bitumen.

      It is possible that the Chevron plant cannot use diluted bitumen as an input. So, the new pipeline may play no part in domestic supply. The supply of conventional crude is decreasing as existing wells run out. All current efforts appear to be aimed at getting diluted bitumen to offshore/US refineries. None are aimed at getting conventional crude to Canadian refineries.

      Alberta wants to sell oilsands product. It has not insisted on an upgrader within Alberta – caved to industry demands. It has not insisted on nuclear for processing oilsands product – caved to industry demands.

      As a tradeoff, Alberta should consider doing some of the following:

      – insist on an upgrader in Alberta, which will assure a supply of conventional crude to refineries in Canada

      – insist on lowering of emissions during the mining and processing of oilsands products, this could include nuclear energy for the processing phases

      – insist on an upgrader to meet the input needs of Canadian refineries.

      The long term goal is to eliminate fossil fuels. As we move toward that goal, those we do use should be as green as possible. Green includes many factors, not just emissions. Safety is one of those additional factors.

  • Susan Burns

    thank you for your sane and humane view that carries important political implications for responsible government

  • Mamie Cat

    En effet les bullies sociopathes de l’huile trouvent le moyen de détourner la réflexion selon LEUR$ intérêt$ malade$ : train ou oléduc. Les solutions existent; qu’attend-on pour les exiger au lieu de se laisser manoeuvrer par ces malades ?
    Je ne comprends pas notre inertie de drogués… “On va mourir anyway”, c’est ça la logique?

  • Doug Marr

    Bang on as usual. Pity there aren’t more of you clear thinkers around.

  • James Travagline

    For more than 25 years the two major rail carriers have been cutting back on rail maintenance workers. Tracks are in terrible shape. CN and CP have diversified all their profit making services away from rail only to leave the Taxpayer who has to subsidize the railways. And of course our MPs just turn a blind eye, they travel by air. JMHO…..

  • Donna

    Thank you Elisabeth for stating the obvious for those who cannot see the common sense in the solution to preventing further tragedies such as the one that destroyed Lac-Manentic. Thank you for speaking on behalf of Thomas Mulcair. Tweo voicesof reason.

    • Donna

      oops sorry – Elizabeth :-)

  • MikeSmith866

    My already high opinion of Elizabeth May has gone up 10 notches as a result of this article. Elizabeth writes with uncommon good sense when Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau speak with the intent of benefiting themselves.

  • Mrs Brand

    I heartily agree with your sentiments

    Mrs Brand, Victoria, BC

  • E.M. Orsten

    Elizabeth, Your common-sense analysis of what went wrong — and what will undoubtedly produce similar disasters in the future — unless those who have the power to do so, change their approach, is what is needed in Parliament. If the Harper Government, the train companies, and the corporations won’t listen, it it up to ordinary Canadians to show by their votes that they insist on a change.

    • Betty Ann Watt

      ELIZABETH’S PARTY IS SURROUNDED BY OTHERS WITH THIS COMMON SENSE IDEA. WHAT IS STOPPING US FROM ACTING ON THIS COMMON SENSE? I AM WEEPING WITH FRUSTRATION

  • aidanz

    more cars less trees ~ think aboutz it!

  • Pygormus

    (1) Any right-thinking person knows that it is the extraction, production and consumption of fossil fuels that are the root of this disaster and many others besides, the greatest being the effect on global climate (which may already be beyond control). The challenge is to come up with a plan that will enable the industry to switch gears to alternative energy without wrecking the economy (or at least with minimal damage to it). Crowing about the environment without confronting the economic aspect is and will continue to be ineffective.

    (2) The political side of the issue is also important and I wish that sometime in the reasonably near future Elizabeth can find a rapprochement with the NDP. Without it I fear we will continue the downward path the Conservatives are taking us (and the Liberals wouldn’t be much better).

    • brent1023

      Rapprochements are dangerous.

      The Progressive Conservatives had a rapprochement with Reform – and vanished from the face of Canadian politics.

      Any party can be taken over. I increasingly believe that the Liberal party was taken over by non-liberals when Martin took over the party. The Liberal Party under Martin, Ignatieff and Rae was increasingly not a liberal party. (Did it become the new home of red-Torys ousted by the Harper coup?)

      The NDP is encumbered by its association with organized labour. In many cases in BC, organized labour is anything but green. They value jobs over the environment every time. A rapprochement with the NDP could be the end of the green voice in Canada.

      • Pygormus

        You make a good point but why be so negative? It could just as easily be the redemption of the NDP. And the important goal is to be elected. Splitting the progressive vote will only mean being forever on the outside.

  • Denis

    Very good article. It’s nice to see someone using common sense concerning the statements by Tom Mulcair, about the government’s job priority should be to protect it’s citizens. It’ true, The Harper government was directly responsible for this disaster with it’s playing fast and loose with the safety of it’s citizens, by removing government regulations on rail. Notably as well, no Canadian companies were given this special dispensation to have only one employee on a train, which was a rolling bomb. This company, an American one, should have been made to follow the same rules that govern citizens of this country. Why did they get this special favour?
    The bottom line seems to be the only important thing to this foul Harper government. Worst government ever!!

  • mms

    Your article is bang on. As bad as a disaster like this is, it pales in comparison to a major oil spill.

    As a retired Engineer and volunteer fireman (also retired), I am very surprised at the scope of the train disaster. Crude oil is not, as far as I know, particularly flammable, let alone explosive. I am looking forward to hearing about what actually caused this explosion. My money says it was not the oil itself. Poor regulation and enforcement certainly helped it to occur, but the scope is shocking.
    (oh, and if THIS bothers you, think of what damage a ruptured ammonia car would cause in downtown Toronto). Go ahead. Look it up.

    Sleep well.

    • Caqlicker

      Under heat oil can ignite and propel. The malfonctionning brakes could have ignited the first cars that then ignited the others boiling them to explode.

  • Mike

    How much whould it have cost the Railway company to pay one night’s salary to one employee to stay with a train with 5 engines and over seventy cars with a volatile cargo? How much has been lost because they were so cheap?

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.jardine2 George Jardine

    Oil companies have used railroads to move oil to refineries, ever since Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, this disaster was because of the absence of rules regarding idling trains, railroad companies should never be allowed to make their own rules, especially when it comes to safety,This is a failure of a government, that is derelict in their duty to Canada, and the citizens of Canada.

    • sambar

      In 1870 the population of the world was 3.2 billion. Standard oil was transporting a small fraction of the oil of today and it was through open countryside.

  • Grace Joubarne

    I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m not sufficiently outraged at the behavior of our government, because I am, but when I put this train disaster in the context of the fact that millions of our kids are being killed and permanently brain-damaged by psychiatric drugs and vaccines every single day on the say-so of their parents and money-hungry pharmaceutical whores (doctors) and not a peep is heard from our politicians, I have to weep. Every day, another child is permanently brain-damaged by pharmaceutical drugs and nobody cares. 50 people are killed by a train and everybody pays attention. There are more kids being maimed and killed by psychiatric drugs every day then the # of people in that town…every day they are not just at risk, they are actually being permanently damaged, yet the media focuses entirely on trains putting a small town at risk. There is a huge disconnect in our thinking, in our priorities and its all because politicians spin every tragedy to get the most bang for their agenda.

    • dfinlay

      This is a much more clear-cut issue. Psychiatric drugs don’t always help, but often they do. I was prescribed Ritalin and didn’t take it (and am very glad I didn’t, as I don’t think I needed it), but I know people who it definitely helped. It can be very hard (if not impossible) to 100% accurately identify who it will help and who it will harm, but they do try. I doubt very many doctors are giving kids drugs they don’t think will help them, though I will definitely agree, there is over-prescription going on. As for vaccines, you may want to do more research. The claim that it causes autism has been debunked time and again and the main “scientist” who made the claim, Andrew Wakefield, had his licence removed for falsifying data for financial gain. As far as I am aware, no evidence of widespread vaccine-related health risks has held up under further scientific scrutiny. Not getting vaccinated during an epidemic not only puts you at risk, but by damaging the restrictions on the spread of the disease, puts everyone around you at increased risk as well and is hence of questionable morality. Comparing doctors giving out vaccines to this tragedy is both highly incorrect and highly insensitive.

      • Grace Joubarne

        dfinlay: you have to be a pharmaceutical ghostwriter. NO PROOF?? Three months ago 2 families were each awarded over $10 MILLION awards by the California courts because it was conclusively proven that their children were permanently damaged by the MMR vaccine and that it caused their severe autism and vegetative states. In addition, in the last 10 years alone, over $3.9 Billion (that’s a B) has been paid quietly to the families of brain-damaged children, complete with the necessary gag-orders. The CDC itself has admitted vaccines are neither effective nor safe.

        Health Canada has just approved another 10 HOMEOPATHIC vaccines because they were proven entirely effective and safe. You will never hear of any payout of $ for homeopathic-induced damage of a child.

        In fact when there is an epidemic of anything, those vaccinated have mostly been the ones to have the disease…also proven. Barely anyone has died of measles or mumps over the many centuries children have caught these diseases…but the vaccines for these diseases have damaged and killed millions.

        You really need to read Dr. Peter Breggin’s work for starters (Medication Madness especially)…it has been conclusively proven in criminal and civil cases against pharmaceutical companies who manufacturer these drugs, such as Ritalin (Kiddie Cocaine) that these drugs are entirely designed to be addictive and brain-damaging. Why else are they now the street drug of choice? Look up his website and you can see the multitude of landmark cases. Ritalin is a gateway drug.

        Children reacting normally to dysfunctional family lives and abject poverty, not to mention a very sick educational system don’t need to be re-victimized by drug pushers. Studies have shown that 1 out of 2 girls will be molested by the age of 20…what a great way to hide molestation eh? Just drug them when they act out then have people like you claim it ‘helped them’.

        Frankly, people like you who promote the notion that mental illness exists are either deliberately ignorant and/or paid by Big Pharma because the studies since 1970 have proven beyond any doubt that there is no scientific evidence or anything else to support the claims of ‘mental illness’. Further it has been proven beyond any shadow of a doubt in courts across North America by ethical doctors and scientists that there is no brain abnormality or chemical imbalance in any so-called mental illness including major depression and schizophrenia UNTIL the person is either electroshocked or put on psychiatric drugs. As well, there is little violence and excellent recovery without any relapse if not drugged…and that has been repeatedly proven. Once on drugs, the patient is toast with all so-called mental illnesses worsening and cascades of make-believe diagnoses covering up the crimes.

        You need to stop helping the pharmaceuticals kill and maim little children for reacting normally…you need to get a conscience and get the facts before you profer such awful garbage. Look up Joseph Biederman, Harvard Professor and Psychiatrist who was exposed for taking $1.6 Million dollars in bribe money from Johnson & Johnson to skew his research to guarantee that he found Bipolar Disorder in little children and that J & J’s antipsychotic drug Respirdal was the best treatment. A ‘disorder’ that was entirely unheard of prior to this 2008 fraud. First there is the drug and then an excuse to use it. This is the case with Ritalin…it was around, not selling and so they congured up the story of mental illness in children! Adderall was taken off the market as a weight loss drug because it killed too many women…brought back a few years later to use on children with ‘mental illnesses’.

        Childhood and normal reactions are not mental illnesses. But deliberate ignorance and working for pharmaceuticals pushing drugs on helpless little children is called psychopathy.

  • Ernie Redekop

    The basic impetus behind this disaster is greed. The railway company has been far too anxious to save money by cutting one of what was originally two men running their trains. Your analysis, Elizabeth, is right on the mark. Keep up your principled and intelligent resistance to the crude forces of the Harper regime!

  • Claude

    Lots of material here. I don’t think Harper rules over Transport Canada and their rulings.

    I strongly believe that many who work on trains, not upper management or government bureaucrats of any stripe, know what needs to be done about train operations in general and safety in particular; if not, everyone would be paid minimum wage. I also believe that they are ignored by various levels of management and government.

    What moron would approve (more or less) abandoning 73 rail cars of dangerous goods in the middle of a population? Well, Transport Canada did just that with their ruling. MMA, who should know better also approved it by not using expert common sense and just abiding by the rules.

    Lac-Mégantic was kept in the dark. But I think they should have they should have had local regulations such as automobile traffic signals and building fire regulations; they should at least have demanded to know what “bombs” were parked in their city!

    Yes, economics are also a factor especially after listening to the MMA representative who was blaming everyone but his company.

    But the accident could have easily been prevented if common sense was still a desirable attribute for employers – private and government employers.

    There will be more accidents, real accidents, not manifestations of stupidity and incompetence and nonchalance.

    • brent1023

      Clearing Harper of blame because the regulator is at arms length no longer works.

      Harper did not personally destroy the Rights and Democracy organization. He did appoint the board that did destroy RaD, the board which continues to ensure the moribund status of that organization.

      Harper picks the people who run these organizations. Once he has picked his people, there is no need for direct control.

      Once the Harper regime is turfed from office, a complete review of all Harper appointments in all parts of government will have to be done. All of those people would then have to compete for their jobs. Failure to win the competition would be grounds for dismissal without compensation.

  • robertjb

    What is increasingly obvious is that the tragedy in Lac Magentic is a regulatory
    failure. As part of our ruinous free market economy deregulation is the mantra
    of big business. This comes in the form of cutting staff, wages, labor and
    safety standards, union bashing, all for the sake of increased profits. Governments everywhere have been complicit in this by being all too willing to let industries self-regulate.
    Leaving industries to self-regulate is nothing short of criminal negligence and the
    community of Lac Megantic has paid a horrendous price for this wanton disregard
    for public safety- lives sacrificed at the alter of increased corporate
    profits.
    Unless the new Minister of Transport squarely addresses this issue and her department gets back into the business of being an effective regulatory body she is derelict in her duty .

    • ed ivanisko

      the town should sue the shoddy American company and the citizens of the town should begin a class action suit ….NAFTA ( thanks to another corrupt,morally bankrupt “Conservative leader” lyin Brian Mulroney ).Transport Canada should be sued for negligence due to deficient regulations which they might have power to change…..check out RY Cooder’s you tube video…”No Bankers Left Behind”

  • Sandra

    “The mania against regulation…” we should go back to more regulations, not less.

  • herbie

    If I am not mistaken there was a pipeline leak near False Creek in Vancouver or maybe a little further east in Burnaby. Either way, had the pipeline caught on fire after rupturing it would also have resulted in a great loss of life. We need to keep working on our dependence on oil and keep trying to move it more safely.

  • little bear

    so we built a lovely home off the grids because it looks like people in power aren’t understanding about water, air and food issues. we tried to tell people and still keep the website and books going but really, elizabeth, i am discouraged. thanks for keeping up your efforts. i am happy with my way. information from a ‘safe’ distance….

  • dfinlay

    While I agree with most of what you said, this struck me as somewhat invalid: “Pipeline proponents were jarringly quick to try to claim advantage for
    the pipeline debate. Their opportunism was in poor taste, but also was
    wrong. As far as I know, no one is proposing a pipeline from North
    Dakota to New Brunswick. So opposing the Keystone or Enbridge projects
    has no bearing on that accident along that route.” Just because the train wasn’t along the proposed pipeline routes doesn’t mean that making the pipeline won’t potentially reduce the number of oil trains out there. To say it wasn’t a valid argument seems wrong. It’s just not the only argument.

  • Denis

    I agree with you in all respects, but let us remember that we have had railroads under Conservative and Liberal governments, soMulcair’s comments were not exactly fair – he should have talked about ‘government’, not just the loathsome PC lot.

  • Joy

    It is totally criminal that the Canadian government can get away with such blatant negligence of establishing improper safety rules … for all industries under their jurisdiction. How many conservatives will acknowledge this government’s shortcoming (and many more). Are we now akin to those dictatorial nations who are less (or not at all) concerned about what happens to their citizens?
    I think the disaster area can be made into a memorial and reminder of this unnecessary loss of life.

  • http://www.the-cooks-corner-blog.com Gina

    Your analyses are always spot on. This world is completely mad! On the very day that France declared a moratorium on fracking, our NB government was singing its praises (of fracking, not France!).

  • David Huntley

    Surely the MInister of Public Safety is the responsible minister. Why have we not heard from this minister,
    So maybe we will make use of the Westray Act to charge the CEO of the railroad; then what?

  • Henry VR

    I wonder about the design of a train’s brake system in which air pressure is required to activate the brake. Does it not make more sense to apply this pressure in order to release the brake, so that if air pressure is lost the brake is automatically applied?

    With respect to pipelines, technology is now sufficiently advanced that the following should be seriously considered:

    1-Pipelines must be double walled. The inner pipe conducts the oil. The outer one is sealed at regular intervals (say 10 kms) and is equipped with a pressure monitoring system (a la car tires). At these points the inner pipe is equipped with a shut off valve.

    2- If a pressure change in the outer pipe is detected the shut off valves in the inner pipe are automatically activated and a signal is sent to some central location to stop the pumping.

    3-The shut off signal can only be manually reset at the location from which it originates.

    4-If the pressure error has not been corrected reset cannot occur.

    I realize that this will add significantly to the construction cost of a pipeline, but I would argue that compared to the clean up and environmental costs of a spill from a single walled pipe it would pale in comparison.

    To those who recommend that we decrease our dependence on oil, I would strongly suggest that they first make a list of all of the things they use in their daily life which depend on oil for their existence and then ask if they would be willing to do without those things. Alternatively, what would they suggest as replacement?

    • Caqlicker

      It’s not because oil industry and friends don’t broadcast alternatives that they don’t exists! And when we know of some, when we try to get them to do research on them, we’re blocked!

      So do your homework mainstream media whore!

      • Henry VR

        What does name calling get you except resentment?

        • Caqlicker

          Alternatives “do” exists so “why” acting as if they don’t? Do you have some interests in petroleum products mister?

          If so i would strongly recommand that you sell them the faster you can in regard of good public healt…

          If you don’t, then why pretend there’s nothing out of that industry?

          What i experience in Quebec clearly show politic behavior behind that “utopia”.

  • Terri Hope

    Isn’t it fascinating that our leaders, people in positions of power, would not WANT to assure the safety and well being of the public? We have come to accept that an emphasis on corporate authority and financial gain count above all else, and are to be expected. How can we stop accepting greed and lack of ethics as inevitable?

  • Daphne

    I love trains: my great-grandfather was a train engineer in Britain. My heart aches for the losses suffered in Lac Megantic…
    I was shocked beyond ken that only one person can be in charge of such a potential juggernaut as any kind of train, freight or otherwise!! AND that it can be left unattended and unlockef for ANY length of time! The mind boggles! These Conservative(!) government MPs ought to hang their heads in shame: but they won’t! They’ll continue dissembling as Mark Adler, MP (member of the Transport Committe) did on P&P on July 18th…

  • Nipper

    I have learned that in other countries, a safety mechinism which is mandatory on all trains is that the brakes are automatically ON or turned ON if there is no pressure or below safety level pressure in the pheumatic system. When the compressor or the motor running the compressor was turned off, the breaks would have automatically been applied, if we had the same mandatory safety protocol.

  • Just saying

    bring back the caboose, then the engineer can sleep with the train

  • Tom Sorlie

    New standards of practice will be drawn up. Rail transport will be safer. We all know this. What I would like to see is the Harper Government put some serious money into rebuilding this town. Forget the jails, jets and big oil and do the right thing.

  • Anti

    Your paragraph

    “It strikes me as bizarre that when discussing terrorist threats no
    scenario is so far-fetched that law enforcement and the public purse
    should not be engaged to avert miniscule risks. But in our day to day
    lives, more probable and larger risks are ignored because they fall
    under an area of economic-profitability”.

    Although this is so very true and is never a talking issue in Parliament as it needs to be, the real reason has nothing to do with imaginary terrorists allegedly hiding under every rock, and everything to do with Big Corporations making laws to benefit themselves at the expense of the Taxpayer having to pay for their mistakes and ordinary lives being put in harms way for short term profits for those few.

    Just watch as the Big Oil distances itself from compensation to rebuild the town, and to rebuild peoples lives

    it will be years in court…fingers pointing every which way to make your head spin as usual, another practice that needs to be curbed !

    It is sickening how corrupt western governments have become, it looks as though the ONLY person on the Hill is you Elizabeth with any integrity.

    • Cheryl Erland

      I couldn’t agree more. We had Kevin Page and we know what happened to him.

  • Cheryl Erland

    We can debate about the right things to do, the mistakes made and not made but, until greed stops being the prime motivating factor in our world, profit will win over human concerns EVERY TIME. I believe it can happen. My plans for the evening include a re view of the film “Gandhi”. I truly believe that in that model lay solutions – the only kind that will sustain. Anger won’t do it, hatred won’t work, and God knows more violence/war has never been a solution to the plethora of serious problems plaguing our home – earth. It’s time for radical change and I hold on for dear life to that old cliche that it’s darkest before dawn. Either way, we choose.

  • Glen A. Yearsley

    As for pipelines, ask them what will happen if they have a wash out in a river crossing. With worldwide flooding and raging rivers, this now should be an issue. I am waiting for this scenario to happen soon. The line can be shut down between mainline valves, but they are far and few between. Meanwhile the crude has escaped, flowed with the raging river and years of damage will follow.

  • Céline P.

    Comme le projet Northen Gateway a été refusé et que le projet de pipeline Keystone rencontre beaucoup d’opposition aux États-Unis, l’industrie des sables bitumineux veut à tout prix trouver un débouché vers la mer. (Sans parler ici de l’industrie du pétrole de schiste du Dakota du Nord). Elle regarde donc vers l’Est, vers l’Atlantique et la raffinerie du Nouveau-Brunswick. Pour cela, elle doit passer au Québec, d’où le projet d’Enbridge d’inverser le flux du pétrole dans un vieux pipeline québécois et le projet de Trans-Canada de construire un pipeline de 4400 kilomètres qui
    relierait l’Alberta à Saint-Jean, au Nouveau-Brunswick. Cet aménagement
    permettrait d’approvisionner la raffinerie de Lévis, au Québec, au passage.
    Rien de trop beau pour les magnats du pétrole de l’Ouest – il leur est impossible d’atteindre la côte ouest, le golfe du Mexique… ils enverront le pétrole vers l’Atlantique! On doublera, triplera la superficie des sites d’exploitation des sables bitumineux, de sorte qu’en 2030, cette superficie devrait équivaloir à celle de l’état de la Floride tout entier! Un désert toxique de dévastation aux dimensions hallucinantes. C’est ainsi que le lobby du pétrole est omniprésent et hyperactif au Québec. Il nous faudra être super vigilants, super conscients. La tragédie de Lac-Mégantic témoigne trop cruellement des conséquences d’une course à l’argent qui ne tient aucunement compte de la valeur des vies humaines et d’un environnement sain. Merci madame May d’être sensible au drame des Méganticois.

  • Robert

    Let’s be realistic..This was pure “criminal negligence” causing deaths! A pipeline and tankers will produce more of the same…it is inevitable!…Human lives..animals…marine life….environment..and the economy would all be wounded or killed with ONE mistake like this on the coast!. We are all just price tags! Having said that, I still would like to say, Thank You, Elizabeth, for speaking up for us!

    • Gerald

      True, but in the end we will likely only see a corporation getting a fine.

  • Marianne Dufour

    Thank you Elizabeth, it is such a relief to hear sensible and sensical comments coming from P Hill. It’s a wonder that politicians manage to remain so obscure and absurd so much of the time. Your input is so precious and necessary and I praise your patience and perserverance in putting up with the circus to break through it, thank you so much for serving.

  • Barry Mathias

    Those who are lucky enough to live in the Gulf Islands are also lucky enough to have the best MP in Parliament. Grateful thanks to Elizabeth May for her astute writings, her unbounded energy and her unflagging enthusiasm for democracy.

  • Nai

    At one time if transport Canada suggested a course of action ( As in unsafe freight cars)in regards to a safety matter things were done immediately . Now companies tell transport Canada that the monies required for fixing problems is to much and an alternative course of action should be taken. In other words nothing fixed as long as they can get away with it and or not caught.

  • Jim

    It is not fair to blame government for this disaster. Responsibility and accountability rests with the rail company. It is unlikely, train operators were not aware of the hazards and risks associated with specific operating procedures imposed by their managers. This is the result of our obsession with obsolete top/down management systems. Similar, less newsworthy occurrences happen every day. This one just happens to ring a bell nobody cares to hear.

    • franzk

      Harper has embarked on a course of deregulation to pay back the corporations which created him and bought him the right to rule Canada.

      It is very fair to blame the Harper Government for this disaster and so many others. including Alberta Meat Packing plants, the ongoing destruction of the Alberta watershed and too many others to mention here.

    • Gerald

      It absolutely fair to blame the Government because they are reducing the regulations for the responsibility and accountability. A corporation cares about one thing and that’s shareholder profits. The XL meat plant in Brooks Alberta was a fine example of this. XL used to have a Canadian Food Inspector in EVERY facility where fresh meats are handled. They would test every bin for ecoli % before loads were allowed to leave the property. That used to be the law. Now, companies are responsible to do their own testing and it’s not being done properly because Joe Blow employee who is getting $15 an hour is pushing product through because he is getting pressure from higher ups to keep the product moving.

  • franzk

    The worship of Mammon – the True Religion of Reform Alliance Corporatist Party.
    They are of course Satanists.

  • franzk

    This was no more an accident than leaving a five year old with a loaded gun would be an ‘accident’. As corporations attained person-hood in law, humans lost person-hood. We are now simply ‘consumers’, – cogs in the machine of corporate greed, runaway ‘growth’ and terminally fatal consumption of all resources.

    Your rights as a consumer amount primarily to the comforting right to have your call of complaint to a utility or corporation recorded ‘in order to serve you better’ or for ‘quality assurance purposes.’

    Under the endless misrule and incompetence of the Harper Government, The Canadian dream has become the Canadian Nightmare.

  • franzk

    It is no longer far-fetched to term the Harper Government a Criminal Organization.

  • Dave

    Having one person on a train is a cost saving measure that I consider very dangerous. I worked for CP Rail and would struggle to stay awake after being awake for over 24 hours straight. I have been on trains where both myself and engineer were falling asleep at 50mph. Putting on handbrakes is a very long and physically hard job, usually done after at the end of a trip when we just want to go home. The time spent putting on brakes is not usually paid for, its included in the set pay for the trip so is very annoying. After putting on the set amount of brakes the engineer tests the brakes by trying to move the train, if it moves more brakes must be applied. With two people the conductor waits for the test to be completed and is already at the last car with brakes on so can easily apply a few more. If the engineer is applying brakes alone, they must walk all the way back to the engine to perform the test, and if test fails, they must walk all the way down the train again to set more brakes, then back to the engine to test. This can take a long time and it is lonely and difficult walking along beside a train in the middle of the night, and you get no extra pay for doing it. I can see that would be very easy to just not worry about it and say the brakes are fine and go to bed…
    Dangerous loads like this should be protected with a de-rail. The de-rail is a devce that sits on the track and makes the train come off the tracks if it starts to move. The derail is max two car lengths from the train so it would not be moving fast when it comes off the track.
    I believe this disaster occurred because the railway CEO wanted a larger pay cheque, one person on a train is more efficient and therefore more profitable. Its unforgivable to put the public in danger just to make a few extra dollars.

  • NewCycle

    Excellent points. One thing I notice repeatedly is that, when a weather-related disaster occurs, and there’s tremendous loss of life or property, at incalculable cost, if anyone comments that these events surely relate to climate change, other commenters attack quickly, and state loudly that this is a crass and cold-hearted observation, and it’s not the time for such comments. However, when people try in a quiet moment to convey the urgency of climate change and the need for movement away from fossil fuel extraction and burning on as fast a pace as we can bring about, the deniers yawn, and spout conspiracy theories, and claim that we mustn’t do anything to set back “the economy” and “jobs”.

    I guess rebuilding drowned, burnt, and broken houses and businesses after devastating storms, floods, fires, and tornadoes is one form of job creation, but I’d rather we invested the money in preventing these disasters, rather than cleaning up after peoples’ lives are destroyed.

    When is the right time, then, to state: enough is enough, and the time for action is immediate, and the threat is appallingly large, and we’re all responsible, and all vulnerable?

    I would appreciate it if not another cent from my tax dollars went to subsidize the fossil fuel industries, or to expand or repair another highway system, but there seems to be no way to block Harper and his team of ostriches from continuing mindlessly down the same incredibly dangerous and wrong-headed path.

  • Ron Mackenzie

    Right on, as usual. A very fair assessment of the situation. Deregulation only frees up money for vote getting projects — at the expense of public safety.

  • James

    Yes, Elizabeth; “Pipeline proponents were jarringly quick to try to claim advantage for the pipeline debate”, weren’t they? Makes one wonder, given the billions of dollars at stake, if this was just a tragic “accident” or some sort of corporate terrorism aimed at the North American public. What small or large town anywhere in the heartland of Canada or the U.S. doesn’t have a rail line running right through the middle of it, carrying God knows what sort of dangerous cargo? Wouldn’t it be so much safer just to have a pipeline off somewhere in the boondocks, carrying God knows what?

  • Diana McMahen

    Recently, on CBC Radio’s program “Ideas” I heard a presentation called “End of growth, but is that all bad?”‘ Jeff Ruben, (formerly chief economist of RBC), believes that the dwindling supply of easily accessible oil will eventually drive up the price to the point where transporting (exporting) it is not economical. The increased cost will drive down use, so it solves two problems: rate of increase in global warming and the dangerous practice of transporting this fuel in its various forms. He sees, in the not too distant future, our lifestyle similar to that in the 1950′s, when people generally had their basic needs covered, but excesses, which most often involve energy consumption, will be curtailed. He also remarked that since transport will become so costly, he thinks manufacturing will become home sourced once again, being more economical than outsourcing, despite wage disparity. While alternative energy sources will be developed, he feels that alternative energy will not be able to provide the vast abundance of energy provided by oil any time soon. I only hope he’s right!

    He is currently traveling and presenting with David Suzuki. They acknowledged that it was unusual for an economist and an environmental scientist to be on the same side of the fence regarding limits to growth :)

  • Sue

    Our filthy Canadian oil should be left in the ground to help save the planet! No tailing ponds to kill ducks, no pipeline to endanger wildlife, no tankers to put our coast and marine mammals at risk and no way for Herr Harper to try to shove it down our throats like so many unwilling geese!!

    • Gerald

      No petroleum to make the components from the computer you are posting from…

      • Jack

        We can find other ways to do what we take for granted now – just takes our incredible ingenuity and understanding, the disasters still waiting to happen and for us to gain some backbone and will to change!

        • Caqlicker

          Do capacitors already use ceramics? Why wouldn’t we use that for the whole thing?

  • Liz Duchene

    It strikes me that no single individual should be responsible for a train and it’s cargo. Historically there was a crew on a train. More than one person to check that safety was followed and to discuss ideas and protocol. It is shocking to me that the law allows just one crew member to run a train. I surmise that people that work on trains would be happy if a crew of three or four were on each train. The train engineer is a victim in this just as the people of the town are. The government regulations are no longer in the interest of the common good rather they are designed to maximize profits for corporations and individuals. The Green party’s policies strike a sober and civil balance between the common good and self interest.
    I wish that people who have to work for a living were not held accountable for the lax policies of our government and the breathtaking self interest of corporations.

    • Gerald

      uh, a trucker is an individual responsible for his cargo. As a trucker myself I have hauled everything from yellow jacket for a nuclear reactor to munitions for the armed forces and explosives for Explosives Unlimited. These loads must be placarded but beyond a seal and a padlock on the back, we are only required to leave the Dangerous Goods info on the seat or side pocket when the truck is unattended which happens when we have to do things like pee and eat.

      • Caqlicker

        And the weight of your cargo is?

        Far lesser than the one of a whole train i bet! (110 000liters per wagons x 72!)

  • Michael

    The comparison with terrorist risk suggests a a tactic for opponents of dilbit and natural gas pipelines and shipping of those materials. How easy would it be to hit a tanker with a battery of anti-tank missiles from the shore of a narrow coastal channel or trigger an avalanche above a pipeline? What are mining companies doing to protect their tailings ponds? What are the proponents such projects doing to counter such threats? It would be a shame to encourage terrorist paranoia but perhaps such questions should be raised?

    • Gerald

      And where is someone to get this battery of anti-tank missiles. Walmart? If terrorists had this ability, they wold likely hit a populated city centre.

  • janice cowley

    posting copy of letter sent july 20, 2013
    The Honourable Aglukkaq
    Minister of the Environment,

    In light of the recent deadly tragedy in Quebec, the transportation of oil products, and chemicals and the discovery of how much oil and dangerous materials are now being transported across country by rail and the many recent oilsands pipelines spills that we have witnessed in the last few years. What are you doing to ensure Canadians that all our lands and water ways are not being systemically spoiled to such a degree that it would take generations to clean. Why are we not pushing green energies to the ninth degree first when solar energy has come down drastically in the last couple years and advances in technology improves. Thermanl energy need to be implemented in the north. This is a severe shortsighted strategy as far as energy security and the environment protection is concerned. I urge you along with other
    Canadian Ministers like Joe Oliver to improve our energy security by diversifying as much as possible and think smart, not just quick money which is all Harper seems to be about. His comments that climate scientists should stick to practical business minded applications, not fundamental science, is pure ignorance. As far as I’m concerned this accident was a direct result of transport Canada’s lax of safety regulations and the conservative governments pushing oil on us when we are not even aware of the dangers passing our bedrooms while we sleep and our houses while we live. Please activate changes.

    Regards
    Janice Cowley

  • Mara Coote Freeman

    Excellent points — the mania against regulation — is when making the rules it depends on the knowledge and at many times( lobbyist) overkill in the process. Has the pendulum now swung so far now we have industry self regulation that is not working. Canadians/ environment are not protected (scary trade deals in the works). I agree 1 man train ( not 20 years ago it was 4 men) and they are now working towards total automation( no men) of the trains is a public safety nightmare and should not be allowed. But also environmental groups that use the hearing rules to sign up thier entire membership base to speak at a hearing ( including those that live in Brazil (and never agreed to this action- Northern Gateway hearings) have abused the process. Is there a way to the middle. the public/ environment is protected — the companies can do good business (employ canadians, keep the lights and heat on— Canada prosperous?

  • Duderina27

    Well said! Thank you! I would add only that we should also be investing in and developing the greener technologies so we don’t have such heavy dependance on toxic substances.

  • brent1023

    To go off on a tangent on one point here – why are politicians so keen to emphasize the danger of terrorism – to create a security establishment about which we can know nothing, to actually go to war on terror – yet they have no interest in day to day risks to the people of Canada that are far more likely.

    Why do they focus on a very unlikely risk, while ignoring all the likely risks?

    The BC government is working very hard to permit a storage facility for contaminated waste in the Shawnigan Lake watershed. 7,000 people use the water in that lake for domestic purposes. The facility will use liners comparable to those used in municipal landfills – liners whose known failure half-life is about 30 years. This facility is permanent – the contaminated soil will be there forever.

    Here we have a certainty of risk to the environment and lives in the area, yet the government pushes forward with its process, as if because it is a process it cannot produce a bad result. Who convinced the province that all processes produce good results?

    A conversation on risk – what risks are out there, how likely are they to occur, what mechanisms do we have in place to detect failure, what mechanisms do we have in place to minimize negative outcomes – that is honest, would divert resources from prevention of fantasy risks into prevention of real risks.

  • Jerome Dickey

    Well said!

  • Gordon Ball

    Pipelines are safer. (than trains)There is no debate. It is as simple as that. Are they totally safe? No. But they are safer than trains.

    • Tyrone Lamoureux

      I’m interested in the facts behind your presumably assumed statement. If you have no facts to state off hand, what makes you so sure? Has someone you know and respect merely told you so? Did they make a good argument? Your comment leaves room for skepticism.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabian_salute KenSfromRamara

    It’s absurd that Lac-Mégantic alone must now bear the brunt of the Harper government’s short-sightedness that authorize such a plan that allowed this railroad to transport such a hazardess cargo & put this community at so much risk! This community could have been my community given the CN’s main line in Southern Ontario bisects it in half. Yet another of Harper ideology trumping reasonable logic & when disaster struck, leaving local government liable for Harper’s folly!

    If the Harper CONservatives are unwilling to say no to big business and stand up for Canada’s citizens over corporations, then it is time for Harper & all his loyalist MPs who rubber stamp his policies, to go!

  • Harold Forester

    I agree with your very rational analysis. Governments at all levels have been downloading responsibilities to lower levels of government or onto industries to save them money. But there is no real saving in doing so, because the only way to cut costs is to eliminate some of the inspections which can lead to tragedies. Remember the food contamination at the Alberta meat packing plant last year and the ecol i contamination in Walkerton, ON where eight people died. Our governments should return the responsibilities for inspections back to the most appropriate bodies to avoid conflicts of interest.

  • Jim Fogarty

    As usual, you give the most intelligent, yet compassionate comments on these serious issues.

    This point should be obvious to anyone:

    It strikes me as bizarre that when discussing terrorist threats no scenario is so far-fetched that law enforcement and the public purse should not be engaged to avert miniscule risks. But in our day to day lives, more probable and larger risks are ignored because they fall under an area of economic-profitability.

    For a government “tough on crime” and not so tough on oil companies rushing their products through our country without proper safety protocols is a travesty. Having said this, I am now probably on the Tory “enemy” list. So sad.

  • GreenInQC

    re: “As far as I know, no one is proposing a pipeline from North Dakota to New Brunswick”…
    But a pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic provinces has been discussed intensely (if my memory is correct) and our Quebec Prime Minister is not opposed to such idea. Not much difference there. The switch to green energies will most probably happen too late, from my point of view.

    • c pomerleau

      You are right, this pipeline project is being discussed now and there are a lot of lobbyists who try to influence the governement. This pipeline should never be built, for that would mean that Alberta tar sands devastation and pollution would triple.

  • James Kingsbury

    The pipeline issue that has been raised by righteous environmentalists in western Canada is a red herring presented by the Federal government pleading to the general publics lack of understanding of the real economic issue here! This proposed pipeline will not bee pumping crude oil to the west coast but will be pumping a diluent bitumen mix. Bitumen requires an Upgrader to process that commodity into synthetic crude oil. Those Upgraders would be costing in the billions of dollars to construct and consequently a boom to employment and business supplying materials. The transporting of bitumen offshore means those Upgrader plants will be built offshore and is akin to Canadians selling raw logs to another country. This is a quick and cheap revenue fix without consideration for future economics! The environmental issues of pumping bitumen are obvious as its density is much greater than crude oil and will go straight to the bottom of waterways making it nearly impossible to clean up.

  • Dave Blaney

    Elizabeth, while we pursue the failures in this specific case we should not exclude considering seriously the ineffective warnings over the years about these specific railcars, DOT111s. They have been labelled by US and Canadian regulators as dangerously weak and prone to rupture on derailment (are they “warners” or regulators?). You do not need a steep uncontrolled run, caused by insufficiently applied brakes and an unguarded locomotive to create similar mayhem elsewhere. Just a level crossing truck hit, a gentle curve track misalignment, a locomotive fire etc – any of these can ignite the volatile bitumen. They should be treated with great caution, modified or phased out.

  • Joyce Hall

    Thanks, Elizabeth. You represent our interests in the face of a government which never represented more than 39% of us.

  • Heather Frenette

    I hold Harper and his Conservative government responsible for this tragedy. They are cutting every thread in the fabric that holds our Canadian society together. It is no wonder things are falling apart at the seams. It is past time for them to go.

  • gpage

    I really dont get why we just don’t put electric stations right on the source of the raw material, gas, oil, coal and such. we have the electrical distribution system in place. these pipelines and other means for transporting unstable materials to be processed elsewhere for energy needs makes no economic sense. By economical sense I mean use the less amount of resources for the most efficient means to generate and distribute power.

    • Tyrone Lamoureux

      You’re suggesting we refine the bitumen in Alberta? And to build the electric plants where the source resources are being derived from? I imagine there’s a cost associated with sending electricity over a long distance, but now you have me interested in the logistics of it all.

      I like the premise overall, however, employment opportunity becomes concentrated geographically this way as well.

    • Michael

      As I understand it, the electrical power transmission system is presently maxed out and overdue for repair or replacement with inadequate or no connections between systems. There are ways to fix that, such as the proposed liquid hydrogen cooled super conductor DC line from Africa to Europe, but they cost much money and time.

  • Bishop Hammy

    Some good comments but we cannot stop using oil carte blanche, the issue I have is lack of refining facilities near to where the oil is being mined. If we had refining capacity in Alberta or Saskatchewan there would not be a need as much of this type of transportation to gulf coast and Eastern Canada. All technology comes with some risk but turning a blind eye to proper regulation and enforcement as is now the case is asking for just what happened in PQ and other places. Lobbying caused this disaster and under the CACL Canadian Anti Corruption League lobbying cannot be done in secret but in front of a panel of involved citizens and experts with a good knowledge of the topic. Now the issue of WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION also is possibly a factor in this disaster since in Canada especially in the government sector there is absolutely NO Protection for a whistleblower be that person a government employee or a train engineer. CACL has a program for whistleblower protection that could have alerted officials to this lack of procedure.

  • D Jackson

    Public safety over dirty oil profits – Canadians 0 – Harper 1

    Environmental Safety over dirty oil profits – Canada 0 – Harper 1

    Wishes of Canadian citizens over dirty oil exploitation – Citizens 0 – Harper 1

    Canadian government policy concerning global warming – World 0 – Harper 1

    Canadian government policy concerning big oil accountability – Canada 0 – Harper 1

    Undermining Canada’s autonomy – Canada 0 – Harper 1

    End game – Canada loses, Canadian Citizens lose, the environment loses, the world loses. Next Canadian election – October 2015 – Harper loses.

  • Geoffrey Pounder

    Elizabeth
    May wrote: “The fact that pipelines cannot convert themselves into rolling
    bombs…”

    Wikipedia provides a long list of deadly pipeline disasters,
    including a 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno, California that created a wall of
    fire more than 1,000 feet high and killed eight. Nigeria has seen plenty of lethal pipeline
    explosions.

    Besides destroying the ecology, pipeline spills can
    devastate communities and cripple local economies, with health effects among
    residents and clean up workers that linger for decades.

    The answer to rail disasters is not more pipelines, but less
    oil consumption.

  • Dorle33

    . . >economic profitability is the golden calf, all of North America, incl. Canada, of course, and the Prime Minister, is worshipping! No other “gods” are allowed . . . .

  • Paula Evans
  • Kim Poirier

    It’s not my job to run the train
    The whistle I can’t blow
    It’s not my job to say how far
    The train’s allowed to go
    It’s not my job to shoot off steam
    Nor even clang the bell
    But let the damn thing jump the tracks
    And see who catches hell!
    My guess is that the engineer will be the scapegoat. The CEO and the Government will not suffer.
    Rest in Peace victims of this terror. Condolences to the people of Lac Megantic.

  • Bob Deadman

    When I first heard of this disaster I asked myself how could a train move once the brakes are set. Then after more reading it became apparent that for whatever reason the engine must be left running and brakes applied manually. There is something terribly wrong with that type of braking system. On a highway tractor or tractor trailer combination they also have air brakes but operate quite differently. First of all the engine is equipped with an air compressor to supply air for those brakes. If there is no air pressure due to leaking off, a combination brake chamber at each set of rear wheels, comprising both service brake and emergency brake has a huge spring which applies the brakes. The emergency brake will not release until air pressure is regained and the brake release valve is re-engaged releasing the strong spring applying the brakes. A separate chamber in this brake pod is for service brake application for normal braking. Any sudden loss of air pressure such as a disconnected coupler will cause the emergency brakes to apply once the air pressure drops below a pre- determined amount.

  • Paul Labelle

    It’s a pity that common sense is never a factor when shareholders profits are concerned. Just close your eyes and cash the check. Sometimes, i see people so stupid, whiling away the day when stiffs like me have to work to make ends meet; it makes wonder, sometimes out loud in front of them, how they have managed to have so much with so little brain.

  • m robinson

    As mayor Nenshi of Calgary said, municipalities must have more control when it comes to railway lines going through their communities. It is clear that the railway companies do not agree. Profit above all else, is their motto. How sad. Yet we, as canadians, are all a little guilty. How much oil, gas or coal was needed to write this e-mail?
    Thank you Elizabeth for your article.

    • Caqlicker

      Mostly water here except for the casing, but wood, ceramic or glass could do the same.

  • Bruce L

    I completely agree, and you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that public safety is subverted for “economic profitablility”. Part of the problem is the pursiut of maximum profit which is the legal fiducerary responsibibty of a corporation to it’s shareholders. It is clear in this, as well as many other examples, that business and government don’t prepare for the worst and see any mitigation efforts as expenses rather than investments.

  • Christine

    Every country deserves the Government it has. Canadians voted in a government that puts short-sighted economy above long-term and sustainable ecology.
    “We did not inherit the world, we are borrowing it from our children”. ~ Indian Saying

  • Kevin Nix

    Deregulation is the culprit here. Trying to do everything on the cheap is usually not the best answer. Cost slashing across the board by so called superstar CEO’s is often how these tragedies occur. Funny that by the time these long term effects show up, the CEO has often moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Regulate these worldwide corporate pirates.

  • Hernan

    Thanks dear Elizabeth. Your statement represent 100% my position.

  • http://www.daniellevallee.com/ Danielle Vallee

    Replacing trains with pipelines is akin to changing 4 quarters for a dollar. We need to find other ways for producing energy. It seems to me, Elizabeth, that you’re the only voice of reason and basic common sense in Ottawa. I wish you were our Prime Minister because the current administration is simply shameful. But the real challenge would be what would you do to not have to cater and bow to powerful interests, because as things stand, no matter who the elected leader is nothing ever changes. We need real change, and not only in the oil industry…

  • Granny Moo

    When I heard a pipeline proponent warn that we can expect more of these incidents if we don’t get busy and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, I thought of Guernica.

  • Robert

    I work in the energy industry and see first hand the safety standards imposed on the distribution of these products. In the twenty plus years I’ve been involved I’ve watched as the safety standards have been increased again and again in response to tragedies.

    I’ve also been trained in the requirements of transporting dangerous goods through populated areas and although I’m not an authority I recall that the configuration of this train was totally forbidden.

    The argument over pipeline or rail transport misses the point. Fossil resources are finite. Canada is blessed with an abundance of this resource and it’s not easily extracted. A blessing in disguise?

    There are so many uses for this precious resource beyond burning it up that it’s a crime to sell to the highest bidder for a short term gain.

    Our leaders should be taking the long view and preserving our oil for when it’s needed for more useful purposes.

    Slow down. Think. The oil isn’t going anywhere and if this treasure is going to benefit the people of Canada and the world instead of “Corporate Entities” then we need to take our time and reflect on what’s really important to our future.

    The argument isn’t about transporting “Dangerous Goods” it’s about the best use for our limited resources. Canadians should take the lead in this discussion because we are likely to be one of the main and last people to hold this and other valuable resources.

    “Je Me Souviens”

  • Stephanie

    Just half an hour ago, I had to wait at a rail crossing in the core of Saskatoon while a freight train went by. I watched those same black, round cars that devastated Lac Megantic, and thought about the thousands of people who live in the residential neighbourhoods beside this rail line. No matter who was ultimately responsible, it’s simply unacceptable to have these dangerous good travel through our communities in containers which can explode in an accident and kill people. What price for our oil based society? We must do better, we must move away from our dependence on this substance that is deadly in so many ways. We simply must.

  • caffene fiend

    Defying common sense appears to be a specialty of our present government.

  • JD

    Miss May, your own commentary proves you are no better an opportunist than any other politician. It matters not the shade of the shirt, just the actions of the institution. And in the end no matter which shirt is worn, it is the beaurocratic beast that is at fault. Keep slinging your rhetoric; you are only one more election away from your pension. Shame on you. You are a party with a single seat, with no track record, and no hope to ever affect change without language that rises above the standard floor fair. I strongly suggest you fire your publicist.

  • Waterduck

    We should never jump to conclusions. To blame one person for this is too much. This terrible tragedy is the result of a series of errors, many of which result from money grubbing. Less employees, to save overhead. Using grandfather cisterns, to save the $ of having to build cisterns actually designed for dangerous goods. A poorly maintained track line. A lack of sensors on said track line. The result of $ grubbing? 50 dead, numerous seriously injured (mentally and physically), countless unique and historic places and documents destroyed… I live reasonably close to Megantic, close enough to tell you that it will take more than money to help that beautiful town heal and repair. It’s going to take a lot of time, love, and the kindness of strangers.

  • kay.stewart.9887

    How is it that people compare train and pipeline as if those were all the dangers to be handled? Trains and some pipelines can take oil to a fairly safe destination, but the Northern Gateway Pipeline takes oil to the next disaster prone phase. From the pipeline terminal in Kitimat oil would be loaded onto oil tankers. Then it would be sent through a very difficult rock bound, narrow, zigzag tidal passage which is vulnerable to storms of 100 foot waves and 100 knot winds, earthquakes, as well as human error. These VLCC (Very Large Crude Carriers) cost 120 million dollars each. They are used for up to 30 years,they carry over 2 million barrels of oil and they can be up to 1/3 km long. They are very big and in very dangerous territory.

    When we see what havoc can be done by slack regulation of a relatively safe train in Lac Megantic we can also see how the temptation to save money in a far northern fjord could devastate the whole northern coast of BC. This Is not to be considered.

  • Arnold Gill

    One of the problems with train transport, is that most of the lines were built about 100 years ago, and towns grew up around them. Now they all traverse the centre of the town. So it does not help if the town has a say in what is moving through the town, since that is usually the ONLY possible route. This is true of every major city in Canada – Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, etc etc etc. Solutions need to take that into account as well.

  • Tom

    I’m amazed that there has been no public suggestion that Burkhardt be put under arrest or at least charged, pending the outcome of the inquiry. It’s time people are held accountable for actions that make money at the cost of others’ safety. In other areas of our culture, this might be called a form of theft. From the moment he arrived on the scene, he blamed everyone else. He and others like him must be made to see the consequences of their actions.

  • Jim

    Thanks, Elizabeth; I know that this is a pipe-dream,
    but wouldn’t it be wonderful if our government put the people who elected them ahead of corporate greed and their own megalomania.

    • John Fefchak

      John to Jim.

      Your words echo those of Justice Horace Krever who has stated:

      ” The relationship between a regulator and the regulated must never
      become one in which the regulator (the government) loses sight that it
      regulates only in the public interest and not in the interests of the
      regulated.”

      Government Ministers who fail to uphold the Public Interest may be taken to the courts as “Mandamus action” to uphold their responsibilities.

  • David Baxter

    To me bullets 5 & 6 are the real problem, until we change the will of the people through education about these issues we’ll always suffer. These anti-regulation crackpots whose espouse the Chigaco boys free market thinking have no thought for the well being of people, only a psychopathic desire for money. We have to change this. We have to move to a more caring government that is not wholly at the beck and call of big business. We who read this article have to tell our friends and neighbours and convince them to try a better way. I encourage everyone to read the Greens platform available on their website http://www.greenparty.ca/vision-green
    Pick out what you’re passionate about and get the message out.

  • William Mitchell-Banks

    Well said, Elizabeth! The advantages of pipelines over rail are exaggerated! And your points about safety apply to both.

  • Eric Hunter

    Well this was so horrific I thought I was in a Stephen King novel. People who had worked hard all week were sitting having a cold glass of wine and laughing with their friends. In 5 minutes time they were being cremated alive. It does not get any worse than this.

  • Linda Fair

    In thinking about the terrifying tragedy at Lac-Megantic, my mind returns to the Westray mine inquiry so many years ago and the conclusion:

    “Responsibility

    As the evidence emerged during this Inquiry, it became clear that many persons and entities had defaulted in their legislative, business, statutory, and management responsibilities. There is always the danger that when so many are implicated and bear some degree of responsibility the principal focus may be somewhat diminished by the sheer multiplicity of defaults. In the case of Westray, there is a clear “hierarchy” of responsibility for the environment that set the stage for 9 May 1992 — and we ought not to lose sight of this hierarchy.

    The fundamental and basic responsibility for the safe operation of an underground coal mine, and indeed of any industrial undertaking, rests clearly with management. The internal responsibility system merely articulates this responsibility and places it in context. Westray management, starting with the chief executive officer, was required by law, by good business practice, and by good conscience to design and operate the Westray mine safely. Westray management failed in this primary responsibility, and the significance of that failure cannot be mitigated or diluted simply because others were derelict in their responsibility.”

    Just replace Westray with Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway and there will be no need for an inquiry into what happened at Lac-Megantic. NOT!

  • Gordon Jennings

    Having lived in Kingston for many years I often wondered about the rolling freight taken to Dupont, which is located very near Kingston’s downtown core, and the fact that the CN CP main line runs through some of the largest residential areas in the city. The cars often are marked with flammable, or toxic markings, but we’ve no real way of knowing what’s in them.
    If you look at our rail system, in general, it harkens back to a time when rail was the primary mode of transport and a lot of the older lines run directly through towns and cities as this is where passengers were picked up. The disaster in Lac-Megantic was entirely foreseeable in it’s happening, if not in the location of the happening. In this sense the federal government, past and present has dropped the ball in not keeping rail safety current to rail usage. Many of these lines need to be moved away from municipalities, permanently. For the people of Lac-Megantic my family has been, and will keep you in our prayers.
    The Jennings Family

  • LG

    i am a retired communications tech , and have seen many changes in industry over the 30 some years that i have worked throughout the province of B.C., I have to agree with Greg Jackson ( below ) . We have other resourses in this country that can and need to be developed one way or another . if we continue our dependency

    on oil , we will eventually run out and have to develop these other resources in any case .
    I firmly believe we DO NOT have the technology today to handle, transport and deliver oil and oil products, safely , in the methods we use today.
    This technology needs to be revisited, completely , from the ground up, or there
    will be more catastrophic disasters , like in Quebec , time and time again!

  • Ally

    I am happy to hear someone else speaking of $ addicts. Thank-you , Joe.
    It is an addiction no less harmful than, say, heroin. With equally if not farther-reaching effects.

  • Mary

    Why was it that only two small rail companys were allowed to have a one man crew and both of them were running in Quebec? It is something to think about. I believe the transport minister at the time was from Quebec. All other railways must have at
    least a to man crew. Why one man, what if he had a heart attack while driving. It
    just does not make sense and should never have been allowed.

  • Joe Blow

    Someone needs to explore why there has been an increase in train derailments and a decrease in safety, particularly with CP rail as in the recent Calgary event. Hunter Harrison has come in and decreased the staff significantly leaving those left to travel excessively and work on call seven days per week. The employees left are completely over wrought, being called in off of holidays or having holidays simply cancelled. It is a devastating situation that should not be allowed to continue.

  • Mark Takefman

    We are also being manipulated into thinking that our energy delivery future is between trains and pipelines. This is the wrong direction to ponder. The better direction we should be considering is by asking what alternative energies should we invest in?

  • Rachel James

    Some things happen as unique isolated incidents, but generally that is not the case. What really concerns me about this is how many other incidents like this might have already either happened or nearly happened, but luckily without the devastating results that occurred on this occasion? What is the probability that this won’t be the last time either?

    As for the rail/pipeline argument, (it is much the same as the seismic testing that is currently going on here in New Brunswick that could result in drilling for shale-gas in the very near future), it is long since time that all governments took global warming far more seriously and started investing big-time in renewable energy, and renewable energy companies, instead of making oil company billionaires wealthier still. The technology has been there a long time now. But as Ralph Nader, quoted in Linda Botts, ed., Loose Talk, 1980 “The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.”

  • h

    I worked for 31 years for one of Canada,s major railways and for most of those years specialized in setting up and adjusting and testing brake systems on freight cars. I can attest to the fact that many cars braking systems are so far out of adjustment they work poorly or not at all, especially the handbrake systems. Many of the older experienced workers retired as soon as they could due to the oppressive manangement and safety inspections have suffered.

  • hirundine

    As an ex-locomotive engineer and trainman.

    The rules about handbrakes, vary. Handbrakes or not. The train, engines and cars, should have had brakes left in emergency. Then had the handbrakes applied, on both Loco’s and cars. A sufficient number to hold that train in place.

    The one thing that is clear, across the system. Is that sufficient handbrakes needed to be applied, to hold the train in place. Whether that is one, two, or the whole damn train.

    If the train had been left in “emergency”. The brakes would not “leak off”. Unless each car, is either pumped up or released manually. If the Locomotive consist is shut down? When in emergency, it will not release the brakes. The Engineer should have known that his Loco’s can shut down for any reason?

    While much of the blame is likely to be placed at the feet of employee. Much of the blame should be placed at the feet of both legislators and rail owners. Who have been lobbying for years to erode the manpower necessary for the safe running of trains.

    To have but one employee, left to tie down and walk away from a train. Is tantamount to “crazy”? There should have been at least one other employee to ensure that the train is left in secure manner. One wonders if the dispatcher, even contacted the Engineer? To remind him of what was necessary.

    What might have happened should the Engineer have collapsed while operating the train? Well, the emergency brakes would have been automatically applied, about twenty seconds later. This feature is disabled by setting the brake and isolating the consist by turning off the cab switches.

    By not “dumping the air” applying emergency. Shutting down the power, or the power shutting itself down. Will allow the airline to slowly leak off, the air-brakes will slowly release one by one and without sufficient handbrakes applied. The weight of the cars will start rolling in direction of gravity. The abilty for the cars to do this, is a “Westinghouse” air brake feature. To use the air from each car to release the brake on the car behind it. Allows for a better running, of long freight trains.

    To apply handbrakes, takes a certain amount of fitness. Climbing up and down and winding up the brakes by hand. If the train engineer, was overweight from a job that has him sitting on his butt 8, 10 hours a day. To apply sufficient handbrakes is a big effort. Notwithstanding, the trial of then testing them to see if you can move them?

    No, legislation has eroded the fail-safes of other employees around to ensure this is done properly. It has produced the big event we all warned about! At the time of the de-regulation.

    The rail-owners will be dodging their responsibilities, avoiding the law-suits. They will claim that they are exonerated by rule. I, for one, know differently.

  • Brad Buchanan

    With all the finger pointing and blame being assessed, a startling image appears. It’s the age old corporate/ labour/environment ball game being played out. Constant cries from business for less regulation or “streamlining” to various levels of government, at times ruthless, and our present federal government agreeing to cut all barriers in favour of business, or any non union sector, is definitely part of this systematic problem. Let’s have some more free trade agreements with whoever and whatever! Business LOVES it. They are allowed to cut costs at the expense of labour and the environment and are totally without blame as they are allowed to do it by various regulations that they promoted to the government. It’s all just a big whitewash of responsible business and government. We have a responsibility to ourselves to act properly in all aspects of life. In the past there was a mantra of Corporate Responsibility to the community and /or society. The government has allowed this to go by the wayside and now full on greed has taken over with utter impunity to responsibility. Understanding the crass relationship and utter contempt the MM&A management has for everything that stands in the way of corporate profits is despicable!

  • John Fefchak

    Pipeline breaks and oil leaks/ health and environmental concerns, the environment pollution and devastation of the oil tar sands operations, polluted waters and dead fish; we’ve got it all:….Right here in Canada.
    It’s all beginning to come together and the story IS NOT very nice. It’s far TOO late for monitoring. It’s happening.!
    We subordinate ecological concerns to the demands of the economy,political and personal ambitions.
    And although the warnings have been posted many times over the past several years, those who are in charge in government……?
    No Worries. Full speed ahead in this man made holocaust.

  • Megala

    My heart goes out to Lac-Megantic. I strongly support external regulation of the rail industry, diverting trains around cities (with an external definition of what “where possible” should mean), and posting on line every day what is in the train cars going through populated areas. One further note about pipelines: I live in Calgary, where pipelines have a lot of support. I see how much money individuals and companies in the oil patch make. Yet they cry panic about not expanding their markets. A friend who’s a senior exec in an oil company told me recently that the world will inevitably develop more and more renewable energy sources over the coming years, so leaving the oil in the ground now is a criminal waste of money – “we’re leaving vast amounts of money in the ground”. There is no sense that future generations might have some use for oil, or that financial gain isn’t necessarily the most important bottom line.

  • Dick

    Most comment suggests engineer Tom Harding didn’t set the
    required number of handbrakes Given that
    it was standard operating procedure, it is reasonable to assume that he did
    indeed set the required number of handbrakes because it was something he would
    have done on a regular basis in all his years as an engineer. The grade at Nantes
    is stated to be 1.2% and to someone bent on a little mischief, that would
    appear as a very gentle slope. Unwinding the handbrakes during the night, in
    darkness and with nobody around, could look like a fun thing to do and it is
    highly unlikely a perpetrator would ever envisage the destruction that
    eventually ensued. You can readily download
    a 2012 Safety Handbook published in Canada
    that explains in detail how to release those handbrakes. The real issue here is the fact that such rolling
    bombs can be simply parked and effectively abandoned for anybody to just
    clamber aboard and release the brakes. Maybe
    somebody did.

  • m

    maybe PQ should be more concerned with Burkharts than burqas.

  • Gail Fabiani

    Great article. A tragic loss for the people of Lac-Meganic and my heart goes out to them. It could have happened in any town or city where trains pass through. Deregulation of any industry or business can have many tragic consequences. Just look at the mess all over the world because of unregulated banks and lending institutions in the US. Common sense has to be used and we cannot rely on the private sector to always put public safety and public interest before increased profits.

  • Kevin Logan

    “As the investigation is into a crime, there is the possibility of
    criminal charges and jail time. An investigation of this magnitude
    needs to be respected. No one should jump to conclusions. However,
    sometimes the conclusions leap out on their own and to ignore them is to
    practice a level of politically-correct speech that defies common
    sense.”

    A very succinct and thoughtful message Elizabeth. This has shook us all to the core. It is not a time for politics, and certainly not an issue for forwarding pipeline projects, that is outrageous. Best we allow due process to establish what happened before we jump to conclusions and rash actions.

    Keep it up!

  • Bill Patterson

    I heard the town had been trying to get the railroad to move that section of rail and bypass the town for years.

  • Lee Anne

    Thanks for this thoughtful summary of a complex, tragic and unecessary disaster and the relationship to tenvironmental stewardship. Your points make complete sense to me.

  • m

    I’ve never seen such lack of leadership as Lisa Raitt (whom Harper just annointed) saying if Quebec mayors want an urgent meeting to discuss rail safety, she’ll go. In other words. she’ll discuss if she has to. Wow, what leadership.
    Meanwhile, would you not shut down a rail company that just caused this type of disaster until you determine that a repeat incident cannot happen? Wouldn’t that be the logical thing to do? But no we get a completely cavalier attitude by the federal government and Transport Canada. Not even any assurance that it won’t happen again because they’d have to admit that something was amiss and explain what has changed.

  • John Shillolo

    Trans Canada Pipeline carrying natural gas at over a 1000 psi snakes through hundreds of communities on its way to Toronto and is more than capable of causing the same or worse calamity. There is not nearly enough setback or regulated safety buffer zones from homes, roads or rail.

  • 2enranged

    This is a great read!! Thank you Elizabeth. Media was too quick to jump on Tom Mulcair..best defense is a quick strong offence..This was a terrible disaster, but Harper and friends were too quick to say the Pipeline is the safest way to go. I can’t help having the horrid thought run through my mind, that this was to be a “set up”, but went horridly wrong. Using this disaster to push the pipelines is wrong. The Union of Oil Corporations are now spending millions on TV ads to promot the pipelines. Remenicet of the 16 million BC spent to tell us the HST was the best…many against the HST did buy in because of the repeditive harping from the ads.
    People need to be aware, Harper..RELIGIOUS HARPER…wants the pipelines, $$$ in his pockets…at any cost. This type of government, and there are too many, are dictators and will win at any cost. BEWARE Educate youself on the issues, don’t let the dictating media control your opinions.

  • melanie

    Thank you for your very valid points. I agree on all of them. I fear the tragedy will be the impetus for a harder push for pipelines, both across the rest of Canada, but especially in our home province of BC.
    Deregulation of industry has been proven over the years to be good for business but bad for the country, and especially the environment.
    Please keep up the fight.

  • tboon

    My gawd, what a collection of naive hypocrites in here….

  • Pat

    Thanks for you continued look into this terrible tragedy and bringing forward some good information and leadership to help people make informed decisions that are not only coming from fear and heartbreak but also from logic and fact. The article has been helpful for me.

  • cjc

    I agree that we need clarity in regulation of unattended trains, but must disagree with your suggestion that Keystone and Gateway have no bearing on an accident along that route.

    The oil pipelines from west to east are full, therefore trains are being used to transport oil. And if Keystone were in place, economics would dictate that North Dakota oil (and western Canadian oil) would likely have moved south, rather than east. New Brunswick would more likely have obtained its oil from offshore.

    Pipelines are much safer than trains.

  • Ron

    To some degree the majority of Canadians share some responsibility in these tradgedies..You have “allowed” the Harpers ,Christy Clarkes, Kliens, Campbells and others to take away the fabric of democracy in this beautiful country..Democracy in Canada is so severely eroded…as to be virtually non existent…Believe it !! Christy Clarke “gave away the rights of 4 million B.C. citizens ” when she opted B.C out of a environmental review of the proposed “Northern Gateway pipeline ” C C gave THAT to Harper !!
    Those who do not vote..and there are over 100 thousand “witnesses ” who do not vote…plus thousands more….are very much as responsible for the situation we have in Canada….There is no democracy…In what other commonwealth countries can a PM or Primere prorouge ( spelling Shutdown ) parliament…Not in the UK not in NZ.
    In summary…Many.. if not most.. of Canada,s problems stem from the above..
    Wake up Canada…
    Ron

  • John

    These are all great points, but some important sidebars are omitted.
    Resources are concentrations of minerals, and Canada has been blessed with many of them. Why though is there such a rush to exploit and export them?

    Historically, corporate profits have not benefited Canadians. When comparing the present social conditions in Canada to the wealth that has been spirited out of this country, pirating of Canada’s resources has been shameless. Successive Canadian governments have been guilty of giving away Canada’s heritage since our history began.

    I live in the Slocan Valley, home to one of the greatest silver rushes in history, and hundreds of millions of dollars of silver were dug out of the ground here.
    If our community had been a family, our fortune would have been assured.

    But what happened instead? The poverty rate in the Slocan Valley today is among the highest in B.C..

    Infrastructure is falling apart, and the money is gone. The money never stayed here to be squandered, but just disappeared. This story is repeated time after time in resource towns across Canada, and could not happen unless government was at best complacent, at worst, willfully involved.

    Canada’s corporations, political party fortunes, and select families have profited greatly from our resources, but in the process the citizens and the country have become corporate vassals, and poorer for it. Canada has forgone tax revenues under Harper and lowered prices at the smallest protest from industry, and given away our best, for greed or from naivety.

    Canada still has homeless on the street, our medical, social and physical infrastructure is crumbling, and the politicians continue to insist all is well.

    Worldwide, resource companies operate under conditions where the political, financial and geographical context is appalling (this compared to operating within Canada with its proximity to the US). The question is why there not a PREMIUM, not a discount charged for resource extraction in one of the safest and most stable countries in the world?

    if a premium was charged, corporations would not depart, as feared; but instead settle down to the new reality of the SECURITY of extracting scare resources in a more and more divided and uncertain world.

    There is no need for the present rush to take all.

  • disqus_mwzFKvUOmb

    I had not thought about the comparison of “leave no grain of sand unturned” when it comes to international terrorism with “it must be economically expedient for companies” related to environmental abuse and personal safety in all other areas of government jurisdiction. All of us who have had to come close to disrobing in an airline security probe to protect the safety of the skies as we fly may think safety for Canadians and our environment within our borders (on land, or in the sea or air) is worth a bit of bother for involved companies. Economic expedience does not justify casual safety regulations that will eventually result in tragedy.
    Once again, Ms May has identified and clearly articulated the elephant in the room. Thanks you.

  • Linda

    Railway safety procedures need to changed. This was a preventable accident in my opinion. I hate over-regulation, but lack of regulation and self-regulation is ludicrous beyond words. It is time for our Federal Conservative Prime “Sinister” and our Provincial Progressive Conservative Premier to evacuate their positions. I dislike the condescending nature of both of these individuals. People should be more valuable than “BIG” Industry !

  • Adrian j

    It should be noted that the firemen switched off the engine, and that 2 – 3 MM&A employees were left at the train when the firemen left the train before it ran away. Were they still there when the train started moving, why did they not check the breaks before they left? All this will come out in the inquiry I hope. Truly a disaster of absolutely horrible proportions.
    However very many on this blog have urged us to stop using oil, easy to say, almost impossible to do for Canada as well as elsewhere. Ships cannot carry goods trans-nationally on electricity or wind, unless we turn the economy back 200 years. Virtually all transport in the developed world runs on oil/gas, the most concentrated fuel available apart from nuclear. While the greed of some capitalists has been obscene, nevertheless most of us are working, have a job, because some person started a company. It will take many years to wean from gas and oil to renewables. Nuclear fission is feared and hated by many people, dams to produce hydroelectric power are destructive of large areas of land, and in highly populated countries may displace thousands of people and cover good agricultural land, wind power kills birds and upsets some people, wood smoke is hell for the environment in adding particulate matter, and results in major lung problems if too close contact, etc etc. We could live in caves, or we can gradually try to improve what we do, improving efficiency of our vehicles that almost everyone on this blog probably drives, decrease use of energy, work with scientists to generate new methods of power supply. AND ensure that regulations are approved BY THE PEOPLE, not just by a government behind closed doors. There is NO activity of humans that is entirely risk free (including sex for that matter) so we have to do the best possible and enjoy the one life we each have. Adrian J

    • Caqlicker

      VERY cheap shot here Adrian, your two hundred year back way of thinking is not very inspiring for us.

      The alternatives, and they exists even if you do as if they don’t, are not spread by such companies and such interests. When i try to get information and advices on some researchs our scientists in Hydro Quebec IREQ have done in the past, i get as an answer that the SAAQ wouldn’t allow such thing. And here i just ask you, what do SAAQ has to do with electric discoveries and goods? NOTHING!

      Hence i urge you Adrian to disclose which interests you’re working for or benefiting from, or promoting by your behavior?

  • dawn

    as I said in a tweet earlier today, in response to a comment regarding contamination of water that feeds into and is on reserve lands from leaks&spills:
    “its ObamaEnvironMENTALism; once a land is destroyed it no longer requires environmental protection…” the coast of the gulf of mexico can tell you all about it :( …PQ has moratorium against FRACKING and NB is trying for same, on grounds of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS RIGHTS; both sit on ShaleGas claims… who will take the Corporations to court it will take DECADES and costs them little. Negligence&disaster (… NewOrleans; levies) is the disturbingly cost&time efficient method of getting where you want to be without compromise or cost and we certainly are familiar with the ethics of Commerce in the 21st century.
    keep up the solid effort, Ms May.
    cheers

  • Joy Johnston

    Thank you Elizabeth for clearly stating the’streamlining” fast tracking” etc are a proper way to do business. Responsibility to do a good, beneficial job, whatever one works at, is a moral responsibility which cannot be compromised by profits.

    We see this idea of “just enough” for supplies in supermarkets, all kinds of widgets and more alarmingly in the staffing policies of all human services. Teams of managers dictate to front line workers how to do their jobs instead of rolling up their sleeves and joining a working team. Maybe the MBA has some uses but to overdue its ‘expertise’ can be the bane of many working peoples’ lives.

  • Joan

    When the bottom line is money, some companies will ignore people’s well being, the good of the environment and anything that stands in the way of this false ideology.

  • John Peters

    Thanks for the article, Elizabeth. The many responses it generated is a great service to an informed political discourse. Much appreciated.

  • RCamp

    Ms May,you have addressed the base issue…a government, regulators and corporations that have no amount of common sense anymore. It is considered irresponsible to expect people to use common sense and in fact is regulated to not use your own thinking but to be told every move to make, or not make. This kind of “instructional thinking” can only lead to disaster. If we are not taught to learn from common experiences, thus gaining common sense, the point of further education is useless. One day we will not be able to accomplish the basic needs of self because no one has told us to eat or to put on our socks one at a time.
    Lac Megantic is a victim of a lack of common sense. We hurt with them, we pay for them. We hope that people will take back their courage to protect each other.
    As I understand it, a pipeline containing this product (dilbit) is an underground bomb waiting for detonation. It’s the dilutant that is explosive, so any rupture could cause the same disaster….this is not your ordinary oil!!

  • Common Sense

    Elizabeth you have my respect. Common sense is that unless you, Mr. Mulcair’s NDP and Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals loose your egos and unite into a progressive party we will continue to watch Canada ruled by the Conservatives. Preston Manning did it for them. How long will it take to smarten up? Thanks to loser Green votes in the BC election we still have a smart smiling clown as Premier!

    • acanajun

      The BC vote was not split by voting Green. The NDP lost the election, because of voter’s memory of their past mismanagement, and most formerly Conservative voters held their nose and voted liberal.

  • Johanna Chambers

    Thank you for your leadership and wisdom on this issue. That such a tragedy could be used to further the misguided pipeline initiative is deranged.

    I wonder whether Transport Canada is remotely interested in making socially conscious and environmentally responsible decisions as they plan an airport in Pickering on a swath of our nation’s most arable land. Your interest and leadership on this issue is also needed.

  • common sense

    you cannot handle common sense can you

  • Joe

    If you can’t transport oil by train or by pipeline what alternatives are you proposing?

    • acanajun

      Stiffer regulations on transporting oil products, at the same time starting to transition to Natural Gas.

      • Caqlicker

        Start using hydrogen produced from water with engine heated exhaust gases…

  • Mia Caron

    Thank you for your letter, Elizabeth. I am in complete agreement with your assessment of this tragedy. If you were Prime Minister, you would have better regulated all shipments of oil, and this tragedy would have never occurred. The Green Party has my vote in the next election!

  • Mary S.

    What this disaster outlines again is similar to the 2008 listeriosis outbreak where people died because of cold cuts from Maple Leaf foods. Our governments keep saying “we have to tighten our belts to save money” yet they just cut services, and essential government agencies (that are watchdogs) and these disasters are the inevitable outcome. We need to have enough inspectors to check that our food is safe, our poorest communities have services to help their children not turn to crime, have regulations for big companies that don’t allow their high paid executives from cutting man power (while continuing their bonuses, of course). And we need manpower to be able to keep up with the safeguarding and checking. One inspector for hundreds of businesses, is simply not enough.

    I want a government that lives in the real world with you and me, and puts everyone first, not big business. Cutting services and selling off our resources is not helping anyone but themselves. What they don’t understand is they are ruining our country and the planet for their descendants as well, not just ours.

    I wish that we could believe in politicians again.

  • rprocyk

    My deepest condolences and respect to the the community of Lac Megantic.

    And re the discussion I would like to expand the debate – If we take that the movement of raw oil from the tar sands are going to be an ongoing reality (whether expanded , the same or contracted), we accept that safe transport issues are going to continue to be a reality whether by pipeline, rail or even tanker trucking.

    Where on the map is the “Lougheed plan” – the plan that calls for NOT shipping away raw materials and jobs; where is the refine-and-finish-the-raw-materials-at-home plan; the create-not-export-the-jobs plan? Doesn’t it make sense to keep the mess in one place and build the refineries on site nearby (since we mucked up this part of the world already – why spread it around)? We would still have to take responsibility for getting finished product to market but the benefits will accrue to Canada and not to Texas and to China? And shouldn’t a great part of the benefits/jobs/training accrue to the First Peoples whose back yard is being turned into a toxic wasteland in order to benefit the “greater good”; they are the ones most immediately and negatively affected; do we we add insult to injury by ruining their environment with zero benefits?

    Re the Lac Megantic situation there seems to be plenty of blameworthy parties who contributed to the disaster. And around Fort McMurray, the flocking of blame-worthy opportunists and capitalists to exploit the environment and resulting consequencs is a tragedy unfolding in slow motion before our eyes.

  • Concerned citizen

    Corporate greed and dishonesty are at the top of this disaster and sorrow. I work for a rail company and although I do truck transport I see, feel and hear the cuts taking place to save money and in every instance the worker is the loser. Scaling loads to be compliant with transport Canada’s rules is the latest, if we are overweight and adjust axle weights we get paid if were not we don’t. In either case we have to scale to know. They twist meanings of rules and management always holds your Job/contract/ income to support your family over your head for leverage. It’s their way of “staying in control” !

  • http://ckgi.ca/ John Hague

    Regulation, like conservation, is good for the economy!
    Regulation, designed to mitigate the risks of catastrophic failure, such as spills of diluted bitumen from trains, trucks, pipelines and super tankers is essential to maximize the “net social benefits” from this Canadian resource for Canadians.

    We will need to invest huge amounts of conventional (fossil) energy to pay the energy input costs of transforming our energy supply from non-renewable to renewable forms. The time to start is now, by using our indigenous supplies to offset foreign sourced energy and invest the savings in pipelines, refineries and other infrastructure to empower Canada on the path to renewable energy.

  • Mavis

    Your last comment about leaking pipelines being treated differently than say bomb damage is very telling of our age, and the fact that pipelines are being pushed heavily by the government in power. Presently oil firms don’t have to detail all oil spills and their costs. We need to see all the data, from pipelines, and rail and truck transport, to determine the best regulations for handling this and other harmful chemicals in our country.

  • Helen

    Well spoken – I am a fan but wish you would join the NDP or the Liberals and therefore at least have a chance of being in a position to participate in governing this country.

    • acanajun

      Don’t sit on the fence, Helen.. vote Green next time, and who knows you just might push it over the top. If you continue to think you’re “wasting” or “splitting” your vote, we will never rise to the top. Always vote for what you want, not against what you don’t want.

  • Fran Manary

    Ever since the ‘horror’ of Lac Megantic, I can think of nothing else in regards to it’s citizens.
    It is so hard to imagine just simply ‘going out for a beer’; not in some war-torn country, but in Canada, and being blown to smithereens, to the extent that there is nothing recognizable.
    Thamas Mulcair was/is not to be faulted when he, right at the beginning, put the obvious blame squarely where is belonged.
    Transport Canada is under the mandate of the government of Canada, and as such allows that Stephen Harper, as head of said government, must answer to the people of Canada, and in particular, to the citizens of Lac Magantic, who I hope can muster a class action suit that will be of such magnitude it will hurt those responsible, in their wallets for years to come.
    Including, no doubt, the CEO; Mr. Burkhardt!

  • Constituent Jim Bennett

    What a thoughtful couple of observations on this tragedy! Maybe its time we reviewed just how many BC communities were having to contend with daily rail traffic of hazardous materials through their residential and commercial zones and what safety standards are in place today to protect British Columbians? There would be a huge cost in relocating routes, but certainly there is always room for improvement of safety regulation!

  • Raymond Dickinson

    I guess harper and his cronies did not learn anything from the incident in Mississauga a few years ago.

  • Tim McKeil.

    All good points. I would like to add my bit by saying that the media has been gentle in that they have gone to the town and while they had some people express grief, they did not show, which might be in bad taste, or write about the real crushing grief of people who have lost someone. Whenever people are lost, the grief is a given, but my main point about being easy on the those responsible is that the keep saying, ‘explosion’, which brings to mind a quick death. Most of those people burned to death horribly. The media should be pointing this out in most uncertain terms.

  • climatechange

    In tangential news ….
    North Pole is now a lake … http://ow.ly/1ZWvh9

  • Susan

    I have been signing petitions to fight toxicity in our air, water and food like there’s no tomorrow. I know that most Canadians has done the same. It’s just not enough. We the people must take a stand. Actions speak louder than words. When we buy a new home, we must demand green energy and not accept oil or gas heating. When our furnace needs replacing we have to buy electric (provided by hydro), geothermal or solar power. We need retrofit programs that subsidize those who cannot afford the cost of converting their old toxic heating systems. Green Heating and Cooling Companies need to lease their heating systems to eliminate the high front-end costs. There are many electric cars out there. We just need the infrastructure for charging cars on our streets, malls and at our offices. If the people representing and shaping our municipalities and cities are not listening then we have to make them listen. We need to talk to them and write to them. They all have e-mail addresses. We all need to start small and get involved in making changes in our own communities. We can create change. Look at California. They are making so many positive changes. People just need a little push in the right direction. I wonder if our cities would listen if we all stopped paying our taxes and demanded green energy? Where is the infrastructure for solar power? Some states and countries have companies that lease solar panels for less than what we pay for hydro per month. There is no up front cost. The consumer starts saving money immediately after they install solar energy. This is a brilliant solution and our chance to save the planet and ourselves. We are all busy with our daily lives and that`s what the greedy companies and Gvmt are counting on. An e-mail only takes a few minutes and can make a huge impact. Thanks for listening.

    • Douglas Jack

      Susan, Like you say, there are many Green investments which we can make with huge savings. Our cities by their linear design are awash in untapped surplus concentrated sources of energy. Complementary solar, wind, water, soil & life resources in cities presently can supply 150% of present energy requirements. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/9-complementary-energy

      Another dimension is the ability of all energy stakeholders such as Workers, Suppliers, Consumers & Founders to co-invest in Participatory Energy Corporations. Cities as well can be considered as stakeholders for the value of their ‘right-of-way’. We need to move away from our present top-down hierarchal corporations such as Burkhardt represents, to bottom-up entities. None of us are safe with the .1% detached concentrated wealth controlling societies from the detachment of their cottages, resorts & gated communities. They don’t live or work downwind or downstream from their own enterprises. Imagine every paycheque, power-bill, invoice, tax-bill & balance sheets with options for investment of our natural strengths & resources. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/7-participatory-companies

  • Pierre

    I really appreciate your judgement, stamina especially your hard work.. YOU WILL BE OUR FUTURE LEADER.

    .

  • BDM

    I agree with point four in particular. Tax dollars need community input for how they are spent. We’ve lost schools, hospitals, community centres while money has been diverted to “the illusion of threat” left over mindse for the last decade. Time to let people speak about tax dollars for services within counties, communities. Elizabeth you are a voice that needs to keep being heard.

  • ABC/CRUSH

    Well said Elizabeth, thank you for your thought-full words. Your non-partisan recognition of an opponent/colleague’s remarks exemplifies how parliament CAN work at its best.

  • Andrew Dawson

    WTF? Elizabeth May was M.I.A. when it came to protecting the Via Rail line into Victoria! What happened in Megantic was a result of North Americans love affair with excessive automobile use! >:(

  • Mke Campbell

    I totally agree with Greg Jackson(a few comments down), that we all should be Finding other ways to get heat and electricity in our homes without burning oil! There are MANY ways of storing heat, and generating electricity, or being more efficient with less. As long as sick people are running these mega-big corporations, other accidents will happen as they cut costs. We should learn NOT to buy from them.

  • joni mcmillan

    Rational comment and helpful explanations, as usual, Elizabeth. Thanks for all you do.

  • yvon gagnon

    needs to be replaced with a commitment to public safety and environmental protection…….good, but day dreaming. people are indifferent to whatever does not concern them directly, are completly in denial as to the risks involved in what they are doing……smokers, do they really know what risk they are

  • yvon gagnon

    .smokers, do they really know what risk they are taking? how come some people drive at 130, 140 kms an hour, do they want to die? do they want to kill their passengers or other people on the road??our regulators for Transport Canada

  • Michelle Marier

    As a proud bilingual Canadian, in the past 5 to 10 years and more,I have witnessed more destruction of Our Country.
    The Lac Megantic tragedy should not have happened. The desperation of our and their governments for financial gain without respect to the environments is obscene.
    Now is the time to rise and keep going in order to prevent further devastations of people and environment.
    To all government officials,including Mr. Harper, as well as all Canadians stand up make your votes and voices heard.

  • Ross

    Concerned Citizens should read the private members Bill C-587 before Parliament now. It is touted by Julian Peters a west coaster MP. Innocent victims attacked by all-spectrum emissions from right of ways must be legally protected. This especially applies to row used for rail purposes. The Federal Government must strongly protect innocent residents from corporate row bullies, especially at night. The human right to sleep in safety by a row in Canada is totally ignored by the Federal Government. Many of these bully corporations are public “bodies” using their brutal legal right to attack innocent resident citizens adjacent to “public” owned row. The difference between slow death and fast death is reduced to the media show. The media show for a quick hot shish kebob elimination from a row is much greater than the media show for a slow daily exposure to deadly toxins spewed by a corporation from their legally protected row. Such corporate bully activity should not exist in 2013, but no Canadian media is focused on this legal point. While many Canadians live far from any row, many live next door to row. The human right to live and sleep in health and safety adjacent to row is totally ignored by the Federal level. While May and other were perked up by the quick, flashy shish kebob in Quebec, they remain so, so consciously silent on the huge spectrum of other emissions, some deadly, from row across Canda. Read Bill C-587 for a look at a tiny step to human health and safety next to row, please!!

  • Barbara

    I’m reading this in August. I am dumbfounded by the government allowing MM&A first to avoid paying the clean up the mess in Megantic by declaring bankruptcy and refusing to allow them to operate in Canada, and just days later to reverse that decision as they had increased their insurance. Are there no minimal standards of insurance that need to be in place for a company such as MM&A to operate? And what will happen if there is another incident? Would that mean that there is enough money to cover the damages for that accident but nothing for Lac Megantic? To put business interests before humanitarian/communal Canadian interests seems the signature of Harper’s policies. I am saddened by this and in this case it is a tragedy!

  • Forrest Smith

    I would focus on second last point “a commitment to public safety and environmental protection” with visible and measurable markers of performance.

  • Craig_Hubley

    It’s mass murder, and quite deliberate. The unsafe permits were issued SO THAT a major rail disaster would occur. This was desirable to the dirty oil movers SO THAT a dirty oil pipeline (Line 9 etc.) would be approved with public support in the regions exposed to train spills or crashes. The timing alone proves this correct: No major rail disaster of this order occurred UNTIL there was a major pipeline approval process under way. Why not? Because it wasn’t the right time for it yet.

    A civil case by the citizens of Lac Megantic and others affected by this, against the Conservative Party of Canada, Harper Government, and all companies involved in rail and pipeline transport of high-carbon fuel, should assert this as wrongful death.

    The evidence may not be there (yet) to support the deliberate criminal charge, but it certainly is there to assign liability.

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