The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mollie Matteson, (802) 318-1487

Fiery Canadian Derailment Involving Explosive Petroleum Products Latest Accident to Spotlight Growing Threat to Citizens, Wildlife Across North America


The fiery derailment in Saskatchewan on Tuesday of a freight train carrying highly flammable petroleum products and other hazardous materials spotlights not only the current lack of safety rules governing rail transport of oil across North America but the shortcomings of proposed new safety rules in the U.S. that would not even cover this type of train because it carried a mix of hazardous materials.

"This accident could have just easily happened here in the U.S. and is only the latest reminder that the Obama administration should step up and protect the safety and health of the American people and wildlife by banning rail shipment of flammable products such as crude oil until truly effective safety and spill-response standards are in place," said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "We know trains will continue to derail and we know we still stand unprotected from these types of dangerous accidents in the U.S. Even the Government Accountability Office study released last month concluded current proposals to upgrade safety requirements for oil transport are likely to fall short of preventing more accidents and spills unless the pace of regulation is stepped up."

For 20 years safety experts have identified the widely used puncture-prone DOT-111 tank cars as unsafe for shipping flammable and hazardous materials. But only since several explosive train wrecks in the past year, one of which killed nearly four dozen people, has the Department moved to take the cars out of use within five years. But concerned citizens, at-risk communities along the rail lines and environmental groups, among others, want the Department to act more aggressively to take the tank cars off the rails now.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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