Canadian crude oil train derailment in Gogama, Ont., ‘very concerning,’ transportation minister says

As long as the future of unconventional oil remains on the railroads, increasing volumes of rail traffic humming through North American towns and cities will continue to cause consternation. And the industry may be one train ride away from a “railway Macondo”....


At the weekend a train wreck occurred in North Eastern Ontario just outside Gogoma on the Mattagami River.

38 cars of the 94-car long crude-carrying train derailed and loss of containment and the subsequent blaze. This incident is the second oil train derailment in Canada in a week and is the fourth incident in North America in the past twelve months. Read more.

An unattended 74-car train transporting crude from the Bakken Formation ran away and derailed in a small Québécois town on July 6th 2013. The fire that resulted caused the rupture of several tanker cars and set off an explosion with a blast radius a kilometre wide. Half of the city centre was razed to the ground and 47 people were killed.

Hopefully we will never see a repeat of the Mégantic rail disaster that occurred in the town of Lac-Mégantic, located in the Eastern Townships of the Canadian province of Quebec, on July 6, 2013. In this incident an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-two people were confirmed dead, with five more missing and presumed dead.  More than 30 buildings in the town's centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings are to be demolished due to petroleum contamination of the town site.  Initial newspaper reports described a 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) blast radius.

The death toll of 47 due to the crash and resultant explosion makes it the fourth-deadliest rail accident in Canadian history, and the deadliest involving a non-passenger train. It is also the deadliest rail accident since Canada's confederation in 1867. The last Canadian rail accident to have a higher death toll was the St-Hilaire train disaster in 1864.