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Canada: rail and pipeline accidents increased in 2017

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World Pipelines,

Serious accidents involving rail and pipeline transport of dangerous substances such as crude oil and gas increased in 2017, according to statistics compiled by the Transportation Safety Board.

Of the total 1090 railway incidents in Canada that were serious enough to be deemed “accidents” in 2017, 115 involved dangerous substances, including five accidents where the substances leaked. This is up from 100 accidents involving dangerous goods in 2016 that included only two involving leaks.

Similarly, the number of pipeline accidents went up last year to five from zero in 2016. One of those accidents resulted in the February 2017 spill of nearly 200 000 litres of crude oil condensate from an Enbridge pipeline at an industrial site near Edmonton.

Jean Laporte, the Chief Operating Officer of the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), said his agency will look into why serious railway accidents have gone up.

Laporte is less worried aout the rise in pipeline accidents: he believes the main reason they saw a spike in accidents was due to a rainier year, which caused more soil erosion that exposed pipelines to disruptions and spills.

“We’re not particularly concerned about this increase at this time,” said Laporte. “Now, in future years, we’ll be looking to see whether that becomes a pattern, whether there’s a continuous increase or not.”

The TSB released its report amid a review of Canada's railway safety laws and regulations launched last year by Marc Garneau, Transport Minister.

The review of Canada's rail safety regime is part of the government's response to the July, 2013, explosion of an oil train in Lac-Mégantic, Que., that killed 47 people.

In related news, Statistics Canada released pipeline data yesterday detailing the amount of crude oil that flowed through Canadian pipelines in December 2017. According to the data, there has been a 3.9% increase in the amount of oil being transported to and from Canadian oilfields and plants over the last year.

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