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On July 5th, as most people in Lac-Mégantic slept, a runaway freight train hauling 72 tank cars of crude oil derailed in the middle of the small Québec town.1

Most of the old, dangerous tank cars split open. The oil burst into flames and explosions shook the town as burning oil flowed through the streets.

The fires blazed for two days, destroying half of the downtown, and leaving 38 confirmed dead, with a dozen still missing in a town of 6,000. This is the deadliest rail disaster in Canada in nearly 150 years.2 3 The human loss is almost beyond belief, and our hearts and prayers are with the people who are grieving and rebuilding in Lac-Mégantic.

Now, dozens of organizations across Canada, from Québec’s Équiterre to Public Interest Alberta, are coming together to make sure a disaster like this never happens again, and they are asking for your help to make sure the federal government listens.

Tell Prime Minister Harper and the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, that you demand an immediate ban on using dangerous 111A tank cars to transport oil, and join the call for a full review of how dangerous fuels like oil and gas are transported through our communities – by train, pipeline, and truck.

Background

Government and industry have known for years that it’s extremely dangerous to carry oil in the old “111A” tank cars that exploded in Lac-Mégantic.4 Yet, the government has removed common-sense safety regulations, and has failed to implement necessary oversight for shipping the dangerous fuel.5

Back in 1994 the Transportation Safety Board of Canada wrote that 111A tank cars have a flawed design and a “high incidence of tank integrity failure” during accidents. Since then, the government has ignored repeated warnings while companies have used more and more old rail cars to transport dangerous fuels through communities across the country.6 7

Despite the tragedy, the federal government is still denying the need for a full review and better safety regulations. On Friday, Larry Miller, the Conservative MP who chairs the government’s Transport committee, dismissed calls for a review of Transport Canada’s safety regulations.8 9

The tragedy in Lac-Mégantic shows us just how devastating it can be when governments put oil company interests before community safety. As our hearts go out to all those affected, we can work together to make sure this never happens again in any community from coast to coast to coast.

The quiet increase of oil and gas transportation in recent years – through pipelines, rail and trucks – is putting our communities, livelihoods and environment in harm’s way. More and more people are concerned about the risks of these dangerous fuels, and we deserve to have a say in decisions that affect all of our lives.

We need to act now before the media moves on and attention fades. If enough of us speak out now, we can force the new Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, to take the first steps necessary to protect our communities.

Sources:

  1. The equation of a disaster: what went wrong in Lac-Mégantic (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-equation-of-a-disaster-what-went-wrong-in-lac-megantic/article13214911/
  2. Lac-Megantic death toll climbs to 37 (CBC)
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/07/15/quebec-lac-megantic-rail-disaster.html
  3. Quebec train crash’s missing all presumed dead, police say; attention focuses on CEO (The Washington Post)
    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-11/world/40499565_1_quebec-alberta-oil-sands-brakes
  4. Rail cars like those in Lac-Mégantic disaster are prone to puncturing (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/rail-cars-like-those-in-lac-megantic-disaster-are-prone-to-puncturing/article13080359/
  5. Tories dismiss need for review of critical audit of Transport Canada following Lac-Megantic disaster (Vancouver Sun)
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/national/Tories+dismiss+need+review+critical+audit+Transport+Canada/8654008/story.html
  6. Safety rules lag as oil transport by train rises (CBC)
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/07/08/f-lac-megantic-oil-rail.html
  7. Rail cars like those in Lac-Mégantic disaster are prone to puncturing (Globe and Mail)
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/rail-cars-like-those-in-lac-megantic-disaster-are-prone-to-puncturing/article13080359/
  8. Tories dismiss need for review of critical audit of Transport Canada following Lac-Megantic disaster (Vancouver Sun)
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/national/Tories+dismiss+need+review+critical+audit+Transport+Canada/8654008/story.html
  9. Railways have been lobbying against more stringent safety regulations (Montreal Gazette)
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Railways+have+been+lobbying+against+more+stringent/8654175/story.html

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