Oil-Shipping Free-For-All Brought Disaster To Lac-Mégantic

"Long before disaster struck, the 5,900 residents of Lac-Mégantic had grown accustomed to the sight of large oil tankers rolling through their small, tightly knit community in the Eastern Townships of Quebec."

"A shortage of oil pipelines in North America had created a new kind of railway industry traversing the continent. In just a few years, tankers carrying crude oil from the resource-rich West had grown from a mere 8,000 in 2009 to nearly 400,000, and Lac-Mégantic is located along one of the main routes to refineries in the East.

Despite this extraordinary boom in oil shipments, there was no change in regulatory oversight, or added safety measures, governing these veritable pipelines on wheels passing through hundreds of small towns across the country.

There were no new rules affecting the chain of 72 crude-laden tankers that barrelled toward the Quebec town on the night of July 6 – the same train that would explode in the worst rail disaster in modern Canadian history. The railway was not required to formulate a plan to deal with catastrophe, in the event the crude train derailed."

Grant Robertson and Jacquie Mcnish report for the Toronto Globe and Mail December 2, 2013, in the second part of a multipart series.


"Last Moments of Lac-Mégantic: Survivors Share Their Stories" (Toronto Globe and Mail)

Series Portal

Source: Toronto Globe & Mail, 12/03/2013