OTTAWA: Canada’s Senate called for a full safety review of pipelines, railroads and other means of transporting crude oil, in a report yesterday that also urges better responses to spills.
“We’ve been working on these issues for the last nine months and the shocking Lac-Megantic rail disaster has only intensified the need to address hydrocarbon transportation safety,” said Senator Richard Neufeld, chair of the standing committee on energy that produced the report.
The Senate committee began examining energy safety issues in November 2012. The release of its report coincidentally comes two months after a runaway train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, flattening part of the picturesque Quebec town and killing 47 people.
The committee heard mostly from officials and experts touting pipelines as the safest and most economical way to transport oil and gas across the continent.
A public backlash, however, has delayed regulatory approvals of new pipeline construction in Canada and the US.
The Senate report also points out the need for more public information on the whereabouts of pipelines and real-time information on spills, going as far as asking Transport Canada to create an interactive map on its website.
It calls for mandatory audits of rail, pipeline and marine transportation companies’ safety protocols, and boosting spill preparedness and response capabilities.
It also echoes environmental activists’ demands that Transport Canada, in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation, accelerate phasing out DOT-111 tanker cars, which are increasingly being used to transport crude oil across North America despite warnings as far back as the 1990s that they are more likely to rupture in crashes than newer pressurized tankers. AFP