Issues on hand from the oil-loaded train crash in Canada

Current estimate is around 50 people were killed in a train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Canada a week ago. That’s a distressing estimate because many people are still missing and only a few bodies have been recovered.

A few articles for background:

There will be plenty of issues to deal with from the disaster: regulation, train safety, our reliance on oil, pipeline vs rail transport.

An article at The Globe and Mail, Harsh Lessons, imperfect answers in Lac-Mégantic, by Margaret Wente starts to outline the issues.

A high-level summary of cause:

… a horrific accident that was probably caused by a cascade of human error, negligence, flawed or non-existent backup systems, insufficient oversight and incredibly bad luck.

The railroad apparently hasn’t done a very good job on PR. The article says:

The squabbling, buck-passing and finger-pointing that broke out in the wake of the crash have hardly helped. The head of the railroad … has come across as the evil face of capitalism.

The author points out, correctly I think, that the disaster will be a big propaganda tool. My guess it will be gladly used by those opposing oil, big energy, fracking, and rail transport.

She expects the conflagration will be used to argue in favor of renewable energy. She thinks that is a lousy argument:

Renewables such as wind, solar and biofuel can’t possibly provide more than a tiny fraction of our energy needs, and their costs are prohibitive. … For all the billions they’ve [renewable energy companies] invested, they have next to nothing to show. …  Anyone who tells you that sun and wind can replace our need for oil and gas any time soon is wrong.

Even dismissing the expected propaganda claims, there will be a long list of questions we collectively need to address.

Check out the full article.

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