Michaud, Pingree call for federal review of rail safety

Brian Feulner/Bangor Daily News

Tankers remain on a rail off of Route 2 in Hermon on Friday, July 12, 2013. The recent train derailment that left as many as 50 people in the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic dead has stirred a debate about the delivery process of crude oil.

A week after an oil-tanker train exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, leaving as many as 60 people presumed dead or missing, Maine U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud on Thursday called for a federal investigation into the safety of the infrastructure used to transport crude oil and gas by rail through Maine.

The train that crashed in Quebec was carrying about 50,000 barrels of crude from North Dakota’s Bakken shale development to Irving Oil’s plant in Saint John, New Brunswick, Reuters reported. That plant processes an average of 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

In a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Michaud and Pingree wrote that “a full accounting of the vulnerabilities of the existing infrastructure” is necessary. Maine’s two U.S. House representatives also asked that the government identify and quickly address any safety issues.

“The route of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train that derailed in Lac-Megantic would have taken it directly through Maine and into New Brunswick,” they wrote. “Other trains routinely transport crude oil and other hazardous materials through southern Maine and into Canada.”

On Tuesday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage issued an executive order directing the state’s Department of Transportation to review the safety of freight rail transportation in Maine. Democrats in the Legislature also called for a review of the state’s rail system, with an eye toward implementing measures that would improve safety standards.

In the last year, crude oil shipments through Maine have increased 15 times, from 2,000 barrels per day to nearly 30,000 barrels per day crossing into Maine by rail in March, according to Pingree and Michaud.

“In addition, there have been three derailments of trains carrying hazardous materials in Maine during just the last six months,” they wrote, in calling for a new federal probe of rail transport of crude oil.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the July 6 explosion in Lac-Megantic. So far, the investigation has focused on the train’s hand brakes.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why does this always happen??????????

Every time there's a big enough accident, there has to be those public officials who for whatever reason, need to get their name in the paper calling for an investigation. What are they going to investigate that hasn't already been gone over a thousand times. I feel pretty confident the powers that be will find out what happened. Even with out the political "Push" for an investigation.
Why are only two Representatives calling for this big investigation. Why not all the Representatives? It's nothing more than a couple of people trying to capitalize on tragedy. pure and simple. Now if they want to investigate anyone, they should start with the CEO of the company, Mr Burkhardt. I have seen so many guys like him years ago in the trucking industry, He will say or do anything to deflect responsibility from his company. The driver is usually the first to get it. Then there's the equipment failures which will come up if they clear the engineer. I'm surprised he didn't report the train stolen twenty four hours after the wreck.
He hasn't mentioned who authorized the engines to be shut down to extinguish the fire. where was the fire and what if any involvement did the engineer have in fighting the fire and disabling the air compression to the brakes. That is what caused the wreck the compressors being disabled. Would it be reasonable for the engineer to foresee such circumstances? Five hand brakes or twenty five hand brakes, it's whoever cut power to the engines shutting off the compressors that are most likely at fault here.
That engineer knew how to secure the train, there was a fire, the engineer was at a hotel. Once the integrity of that train is compromised, in any way, the responsibility to the engineer should be relinquished. Those are the kind of questions and scenarios that should be investigated, not whose fault it was.......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

A federal investigation? They

A federal investigation?
They couldn't handle a rough crowd in Bengahzi, they have no control over the IRS, they can't manage the ACA even though it isn't anywhere near fully implemented, and they're going to do a federal investigation into to the safety of the railroad infrastucture in Maine. Man, that's a load off my mind. I'll be sure to sleep well tonight.

Bob White's picture

Mr. President

Mr. Obama you have blood on your hands let the pipeline go !!!!!!!!!

Jason Theriault's picture


That's just uninformed crap right there. Now, I'm not against the keystone pipline, but the fact of the matter is that this oil could have been sent via Maine's pipeline, and according to the sunjournal article on how Pan Am is behind on their payment, the pipeline is far below capacity(running at 150,000 out of 350,000)

So if they wanted to, they could be using the pipeline.



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