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On July 5, 2013, a train carrying highly volatile oil exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic, causing the deaths of 47 people. Since the explosion in 2013, only dry goods trains have passed through Lac-Mégantic – but in 2016 dangerous-goods trains will once again roll through the town.

 Lac-Mégantic fought to have the train tracks moved to outside of the town. Fortress Investment Group, the company that now owns the tracks, decided not to reroute them because of the cost. This raises important questions: why does a private company have so much more control over rail line location than the government? How much control does the Canadian government actually have over the country’s railroads?

The issue of trains running through Lac-Mégantic has been covered by mainstream media such as CBC but their coverage stated that only dry goods trains would run through the town, without an update when this changed. The Wall Street Journal, reported on July 4, 2014 that there was a chance that dangerous goods trains might run through Lac-Mégantic but they never reported once the decision was made certain. The only person to report on the decision to have these trains run through the town was Justin Mikulka, writing for the environmental news site DeSmogBlog on Jan. 3, 2015.

 

References

"Editorial: New Rail Safety Rules Are Welcome, but Constant Vigilance Is Required." Montreal Gazette. October 29, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://montrealgazette.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-new-rail-safety-rules-are-welcome-but-constant-vigilance-is-required.

George-Cosh, David. "After Lethal Crash, Quebec's Lac-Mégantic Fears Return of Oil Trains." The Wall Street Journal. July 4, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/after-lethal-crash-quebec-town-fears-return-of-oil-trains-1404502664.

"Lac-Mégantic Rail Traffic Resumes with Stricter Guidelines." CBCnews. December 19, 2013. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/lac-mégantic-rail-traffic-resumes-with-stricter-guidelines-1.2468572

Mikulka, Justin. “Dangerous Oil Trains To Return to Lac-Megantic While Town Still Recovers.” DeSmogBlog. Jan. 1, 2015. Accessed March 30, 2015. http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/01/01/dangerous-oil-trains-return-lac-megantic-while-town-still-recovers

 

Student Researcher: Ashley Robinson, University of Regina

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia W. Elliott, University of Regina