Ottawa – A new Senate report is calling for an arm’s length review of rail safety in Canada following a disaster that devastated a small Quebec town this summer.
“We’ve been working on these issues for the last nine months and the shocking Lac-Megantic rail disaster has only intensified the need to address hydrocarbon transportation safety,” Conservative Sen. Richard Neufeld, chair of the Senate energy committee, said in a statement.
“In the years ahead, hydrocarbon production will continue to grow and so will transport capacity. That’s why we believe Canadians need to know more about what the federal government has in place to protect citizens and the environment, and what more can be done to enhance current practices.”
Neufeld and Liberal senators Grant Mitchell and Paul Massicotte worked on the report.
The study on the safe transport of hydrocarbons by pipelines, tankers and rail cars was launched in November 2012. Its release comes weeks after an oil-laden freight train jumped the tracks and exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.
The disaster, which killed 47 people and led to a mass evacuation in the community of 6,000, has since prompted a criminal investigation and several lawsuits.
The study is also being released as Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. holds consultations over its proposed west-east oil pipeline. The $12-billion Energy East pipeline would carry western crude oil all the way to the East Coast.
The company plans to convert roughly 3,000 kilometres of its natural gas main line to ship oil from Alberta to Quebec and build an additional 1,400 kilometres of new pipe to Saint John, NB. From there, the crude could feed Irving Oil’s massive refinery and be shipped offshore. However, critics of the proposed pipeline say the potential environmental risks are too great.
The study makes 13 recommendations, five of which relate to responding to marine spills. The Senate committee held 13 hearings and heard from 51 visits as it prepared its report.
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