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Quebec Train Accident: What Can We Learn?

Quebec train accident

The Quebec fuel train disaster, which has left 13 dead and dozens missing, and 27,000 gallons of light crude spilled into waterways, has raised several questions for environment and energy managers.

Yesterday lead investigator Donald Ross, of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, said the tankers used by the Quebec train have a history of puncturing. These cars are widely used in the US rail fleet, Fox News reports. And this week’s accident is the fourth involving crude oil to be investigated by Canadian authorities this year. These facts highlight the dangers of moving oil by train – and resurrect the question of whether the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would offer a safety advantage. For corporate sustainability managers, the accident serves as a fresh example of the many problems inherent in oil consumption, and why they may wish to seek alternative fuels. 

Investigators are also examining whether someone could have intentionally tampered with the train, disengaging the brakes and setting it rolling. The suggestion highlights the nexus between security, health and safety, and environmental management. For companies handling dangerous or flammable substances, proper environmental protections include the security to ensure that outsiders cannot tamper with those substances or with equipment. From vandalism and theft to terrorism, there are many reasons to be careful.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Picture credit: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

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