The horrific train derailment in Canada over the weekend has left an indelible mark on the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic. Its 6,000 residents are still reeling from the massive explosion that eviscerated the town’s center.
At the time of this writing, 13 deaths have been reported and 40 people are still missing . UPDATE: (7/15/13) Thirty-seven bodies have been recovered so far, with around 13 people still missing and presumed dead.
The locomotive had been left unattended in a nearby town after firefighters put out a blaze on the same train about an hour earlier. Some reports indicate that the shut-down may have caused the train’s airbrakes to disengage. The train then began moving itself, building up speed and eventually erupting into a massive fireball that left victims’ remains unrecognizable.
Pipeline or Rail
The train was laden with 72 cars of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota when it derailed. The Washington Post reports, “The explosion near the border of Maine also reverberated in the rest of Canada and the United States, where people are hotly debating what mode of transportation is safest and most economical for carrying the steadily growing output of crude oil from North Dakota and Texas.”
Some groups have criticized the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, citing environmental concerns. Given the recent accident, proponents of the pipeline may find more supporters. The Association of American Railroads was quick to point to statistics claiming that the average hazmat pipeline spill is “more than four times more than that of railroads.” The size and scope of last weekend’s spill has yet to be determined.
Although railway derailments are relatively uncommon, accidents happen every day. In 2012, there were 1,960 incidents at public highway-rail crossings in the United States, resulting in 235 deaths and 913 injuries, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Whatever their causes, railway wrecks carry devastating results for victims, their families, loved ones and the community at large. If you or someone you care about has been involved in a railroad accident and is suffering as a result, seek competent and informed legal help from the railroad accident lawyers at Elk & Elk Co., Ltd. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Source: “Canadian train disaster sharpens debate on oil transportation” by Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, July 8, 2013.