Robert Waite of the Huffington Post, no less, is asking the question - could oil pipelines have prevented the Lac Megantic tragedy?
This weekend's tragic rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, should serve as a reminder that there is no completely safe method of transporting oil, gas and other volatile substances. There are just magnitudes of risk.
Research consistently indicates that rail is statistically safer than tanker truck; pipeline is statistically safer than rail. Even the Washington, D.C.-based Association of American Railways, representing the U.S. rail industry notes that rail accounts for almost three times the number of spills experienced by pipelines. The U.S. State Department noted the same thing in their recent Keystone assessment.
The simple truth is that without increased pipeline capacity from east to west (and from north to south -- Keystone), greater volumes of oil will be moving via rail, be it from North Dakota to Atlantic Canada or from Alberta to elsewhere in Canada and to the U.S. In a report issued April 2 by RBC Capital Markets, it is predicted that failure to build the Keystone Pipeline alone will mean that rail shipments in Canada will rise an additional 42 per cent by 2017.