A Canadian National Railway train carrying heavy crude oil derailed March 7 in northern Ontario near the town of Gogama. No injuries were reported after 35 of the train’s cars derailed, caught fire and spread noxious crude oil into the Mattagami River System. Nearby residents have been advised to remain in their homes and not to consume water from local sources as emergency responders begin a clean-up of the area. Canadian police have not disclosed the cause of the derailment and the incident is under investigation.
The rail line passes through the town of Gogama, Ontario. Fortunately, the train derailed just outside the city and spared residents the possible horror of an explosive train derailment inside the town. While the city’s residents were advised to stay inside to prevent possible exposure to air pollution, the winds took the thick plumes of smoke away from the town.
This is the second train derailment the area has seen in just one month’s time and the third to take place in Ontario within the same period. The town of Gogama was already full of workers tending to the clean-up of the previous derailment in the area. The Canadian Ministry of Environment dispatched representatives to perform an assessment of the situation.
The train carrying the heavy crude oil was 94 cars long but such trains can routinely reach lengths of over 100 cars. Canadian authorities say the oil tanks were retrofitted with protective shields to meet new safety standards set after the July 2013 train derailment disaster at Lac-Megantic, Quebec which killed 47 people.
Despite recent improvements in railroad safety standards for transporting crude oil, the debate continues over the transportation of crude oil by rail's impact on public safety. The expansion of oil and natural gas production across North America through fracking has lead to an unprecedented strain on Canadian and American rail infrastructure. Unfortunately, this has lead to train derailments becoming an all-too-common occurrence across North America.
Safety analysts speculate that public safety is jeopardized by the volatile nature of crude oil produced from shale and fracking operations, long lines of train cars, and deteriorating infrastructure. Former National Transportation Safety Board members have criticized federal regulators for failure to oversee the safety of the nation’s railways and implement policies in a timely-enough manner to protect the American public.
There are dozens of rail lines carrying freight and passengers across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. As the nation’s infrastructure continues to be neglected by federal and state governments the odds of catastrophic train accidents will only increase. When accidents like these occur the resulting investigations may reveal negligence on the part of federal or state regulators, or the private corporations who own the rails.
If you or a loved one were seriously hurt or your business was severely damaged as the result of a serious train accident The Cochran Firm, D.C. can help you recover damages related to the incident. They may include compensation for hospital bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.