Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 7, 2014

Contact: Mollie Matteson, (802) 318-1487

Fiery Canadian Derailment Highlights Growing Dangers of Rail Shipments for Petroleum Products

SASKATCHEWAN, Canada— The fiery derailment in Saskatchewan today of a freight train carrying highly flammable petroleum products and other hazardous materials spotlights not only the current lack of safety rules governing rail transport of oil across North America but the shortcomings of proposed new safety rules in the United States that would not cover this type of train because it carried a mix of hazardous materials.

“What happened in Saskatchewan could easily happen in the U.S. It’s the latest reminder that the Obama administration needs to step up and protect American people and wildlife by banning rail shipments of flammable products such as crude oil until truly effective safety and spill-response standards are in place,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We know trains will continue to derail and we know we still stand unprotected from these types of dangerous accidents in the U.S. Even the Government Accountability Office study released last month said current proposals to upgrade safety requirements for oil transport are likely to fall short of preventing more accidents and spills unless the pace of regulation is stepped up.”

For 20 years safety experts have identified the widely used puncture-prone DOT-111 tank cars as unsafe for shipping flammable and hazardous materials. But only since several explosive train wrecks in the past year, one of which killed nearly four dozen people, has the U.S. Department of Transportation moved to take the cars out of use within five years.

“Citizens, environmental groups and communities along these rail lines have been calling to get these tank cars off the rails now,” Matteson said. “How many more spills or derailments do we need to see real action?”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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