Train derailment: Oil train catches fire in Canada

Train derailment in Canada forces about 150 people from their homes, as oil and propane continued to burn. The train derailment is the latest in a series of accidents that have raised questions about the safety of transporting oil by rail. 

Tom Bateman/The Canadian Press/AP
Fire burns on the horizon at the scene of a train derailment near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick on Wednesday. The oil train derailment happened late Tuesday in a sparsely populated region of New Brunswick.

A train derailment spilled crude oil and propane into a sparsely populated part of Canada late Tuesday, sparking a blaze that forced about 150 people from their homes. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Tuesday's train derailment is the latest in a series of oil-train accidents that have fueled a debate over how to safely transport crude oil and refined petroleum products. North American oil and gas production is rising faster than pipeline capacity, forcing bottlenecks at key energy transit points.

Companies have turned increasingly to rail to move oil from shale-rock formations in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, to markets at home and abroad.

The latest train derailment involved five cars containing crude oil and four containing propane destined for an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. The conductor and engineer were the only people on board, and neither was injured, according to Canadian National Railway spokesman Jim Feeny. Some cars caught fire and continued burning through Wednesday. 

"It is contained, but it is evolving," Claude Mongeau, the chief executive of CN Rail, said at a press conference Wednesday, adding it was too early to determine a cause.

Less than two weeks ago, an oil train carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale formation in derailed and exploded in North Dakota. No one was injured, but a nearby town was evacuated. In July, an oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, caused 47 fatalities.

The overwhelming majority of oil trains arrive at their destination safely, industry groups and officials say, but the recent string of events have prompted calls for more regulation. Sen. John Hoeven (R) of North Dakota is slated to meet with Department of Transportation officials Thursday to press for updated standards on oil train cars. In Canada, the federal government has required rail companies to notify municipalities when transporting dangerous goods through their communities.

In 2012, US trains transported  234,000 carloads of crude oil, up from 9,500 carloads in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). That increased to around 400,000 carloads in 2013. 

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Train derailment: Oil train catches fire in Canada
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today