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Old 07-06-2013, 11:44 AM   #1
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Train carrying crude oil derails and explodes in Lac-Mégantic, Québec

Quebec town rocked by explosions, fire after derailment - Montreal - CBC News

Worry is growing among residents of the tight-knit community of Lac-Mégantic, as people search for missing friends and loved ones after a train derailment sparked a series of explosions and a major fire that continues to burn.

The train carrying crude oil derailed overnight in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec's Eastern Townships, forcing 1,000 people from their homes.

Witnesses reported between four and six explosions overnight in the town of about 6,000 people. The derailment happened at about 1 a.m. ET, about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.
1,000 evacuated from their homes
1-kilometre wide security perimeter
60+ missing*, feared dead, no reported casualties at the moment.
Over 100 firefighters battle flames
Undetermined amount of fuel spilled into the Chaudière River
Cause of derailment is still unknown
It was the middle of the convoy that derailed.*

For help finding missing people: 1-819-583-2441

A train carrying crude oil derailed overnight in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec's Eastern Townships, sparking a major fire that led to the evacuation of 1,000 people from their homes.

Witnesses reported between four and six explosions overnight in the town of about 6,000 people. The derailment happened at about 1 a.m. ET, about 250 kilometres east of Montreal.

It is not yet known if there are any casualties, but several people have been reported missing and are feared dead. UPDATE Radio-Canada is reporting over 60 missing people.*

Update A spokesperson for Quebec's Environment Ministry says 73 rail cars filled with crude oil were involved. At least four of the cars exploded, sending a huge cloud of thick, black smoke into the air.

The fire, which can be seen for several kilometres, has spread to a number of homes. Authorities say some 30 buildings were affected.
More than 100 firefighters, some as far away as Sherbrooke, Que., and the United States, were on the scene early Saturday morning to bring the flames under control.

Authorities set up perimeters as firefighters battled to douse the persistent blaze which was still going despite a steady drizzle.

Worried residents looked on behind the perimeters amid fears some of their friends and loved ones may have died in bars and in their homes after the early-morning derailment.

"We're told some people are missing but they may just be out of town or on vacation," Brunet told a news conference.

"We're checking all that, so I can't tell you at the moment whether there are any victims or people who are injured."

The cause of the derailment is under investigation. A spokesperson for Quebec provincial police said it is still early too early to say what caused it.

The train was reportedly heading toward Maine. The train belongs to Montreal Maine & Atlantic, which says on its website that it owns more than 800 kilometres of track serving Maine, Vermont, Quebec and New Brunswick.

A large but undetermined amount of fuel also spilled into the Chaudière River.

"Right now, there is big smoke in the air, so we have a mobile laboratory here to monitor the quality of the air," Blanchette said in an interview.
"We also have a spill on the lake and the river that is concerning us. We have advised the local municipalities downstream to be careful if they take their water from the Chaudiere River."

Updated - 2: (11:09am EST)
"There are still wagons which we think are pressurized. We're not sure because we can't get close, so we're working on the assumption that all the cars were pressurized and could explode. That's why progress is slow and tough," said local fire chief Denis Lauzon.

"There are some thirty buildings, half of Frontenac Street downtown, which are affected by the blast. Of these, there are shops, bars, the public library, as well as residences and housing."

"A large amount of oil leaked into the Chaudière River and the lake. Urgence-Environnement monitoring the situation and prepared the municipalities along the Chaudière River to the possibility of having to cut their drinking water. In addition, a prohibition to sail in the waters of Lake Megantic, between Veterans Park and OTJ municipality, is in force."

Several neighbouring municipalities, including Sherbrooke and Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, were enlisted to help Lac-Megantic deal with the disaster. Emergency services south of the border were also lending a hand.

The cause of the derailment is still unknown but two theories exist: a fire broke out in the engine or the brakes may have overheated.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada* has sent four investigators on site.

Update - 3: (11:26am EST)
Zeph Kee, who lives about 30 minutes outside of Lac-Mégantic, said he saw a huge fireball coming from the city's downtown. Kee said several buildings and homes were completely flattened by the blast. "It was total mayhem ... people not finding their kids," he said.

Isabelle Aller, who was visiting, says she has been calling her friends ever since the explosion. She hasn't heard from them since. "The more time that passes, the more we are worried," she said. Aller says after the first explosion, some people went to the scene to see what was going on. Several explosions followed afterwards.

Update -4: (11:48am EST)
RAW VIDEO of after the de-railment (CBC)
Over 60 people are reported missing; Radio-Canada.

Update -5: (12:04pm EST)
About 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Some of them were moved to the multipurpose Montignac, the local high school. Local media speak of installation for over 700 cots.

In an interview with La Presse, a vice president of the company Montreal Maine & Atlantic, Joseph R. McGonigle said that it was the middle of the convoy which had derailed. He added that an employee who was on board the train was unharmed.

Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said the passage of the railway in the center of the municipality was not consensus in the community.
"We still have a concern about the movement of trains in the city center, she said the Cogeco News Network. Until now, there were no major incidents."

Local hospitals have not seen any victims arrive for treatment because first-responders still don't have access to the burnt area.*
Experts from Environment Quebec are working to determine whether the smoke poses any danger to people.*

Update -6: (12:33pm EST)
There will be a press conference coming up with more details on the situation. *

Emergency officials fearing worst because so few people are turning up at the hospital with injuries.*

Radio-Canada says train that exploded in Lac-Megantic had no conducter according to company.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:47 AM   #2
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By the way, I can't believe people shit their pants over how dangerous nuclear power is, when the number of deaths from coal and oil production is an order of magnitude greater.
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Old 07-06-2013, 12:36 PM   #3
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I've roughly translated an article on La Presse's website. Apologies for the Google Translate-ish feel.

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Old 07-06-2013, 12:54 PM   #4
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Alberta commits $5-billion to TransCanada?s proposed Energy East pipeline | Energy | News | Financial Post

EDMONTON — Alberta has made a $5-billion commitment to the proposed Energy East pipeline to carry oilsands bitumen to refineries in Quebec and New Brunswick.

The province has signed an agreement with Energy East Ltd. Partnership to purchase firm capacity of up to 100,000 barrels per day for 20 years on the proposed TransCanada Pipelines eastern main line conversion project, according to financial documents released last week.

“We’ve always indicated that we’re prepared to put our shoulder to the wheel to help ensure that we get access to markets and this is an example of what we are prepared to do,” Energy Minister Ken Hughes said in an interview Thursday.

Depending on approval to construct the pipeline, the province — through the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission — would pay an estimated $5 billion in tolls over the 20-year term of the deal.

“It’s a substantial commitment on the part of the province of Alberta, but it actually doesn’t cost us money,” Hughes explained. “It costs the use of a strategic asset, which is the bitumen royalty in kind.”

The Alberta government has access to 400,000 barrels per day of bitumen in lieu of receiving royalties.

Even with the 37,500 barrels per day it has already committed to refining into diesel fuel through its pending North West Upgrader partnership, the province still has ample supply to meet the 100,000-barrels-per-day commitment to the Energy East project, Hughes said.

Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission CEO Richard Masson said the pipeline could help raise the price for all three million barrels per day of oil produced in Alberta, which would increase royalties for the province.

Even if it doesn’t help raise the price of oil across the board, it will boost the price of the 100,000 barrels in the pipeline above what Alberta would get selling its crude into a common pool in Edmonton, Masson said.

“The biggest drawback is there’s always a risk that we end up with too many pipelines built … and you’re not making money shipping oil that far east,” he said. “But that risk looks pretty low these days. In general, the industry feels that we need many options because we have so much oil production coming out of the oilsands over the next 10 years.”

Premier Alison Redford said last month during a visit to Saint John, N.B., she was hopeful bitumen from the oilsands can be flowing to the East Coast within a few years, but she never mentioned Alberta committed financially to the project last March.

Hughes said the information was “commercially sensitive” until recently, but pointed out it was disclosed in his department’s annual report.

Calgary-based TransCanada solicited binding commitments last spring from petroleum producers to ship oil through the 3,000-kilometre line to Quebec, saying if there’s sufficient interest the company plans to build a 1,400-kilometre extension to Saint John.

TransCanada spokesman Philippe Cannon said the company has had a “successful discussion” with prospective buyers.

“We are encouraged by the level of bid submissions in the open season and continue to feel positive about the prospects of Energy East moving forward,” he said.

Should TransCanada elect to proceed, it will apply for approval to construct and operate the Energy East pipeline, with a potential in-service date in late-2017 for deliveries to Quebec and 2018 for New Brunswick, Cannon said.

Opposition party critics said they support the concept of the east-west conversion, but questioned the wisdom of committing $5 billion in pipeline tolls to the project.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman called the pipeline “a great idea” but wondered why Albertans weren’t informed of the plan to commit so much money to it.

“If the government is spending $5 billion, you would think there would be a major announcement,” he said. “The fact they didn’t raises some questions.”

Sherman wondered if it means the governing Tories have given up on two other pipeline projects — Keystone XL to the U.S. Gulf Coast and the Northern Gateway line to northern B.C. — to get bitumen to other markets. “Certainly the west-east pipeline is a good idea,” said NDP MLA David Eggen. “But does Alberta need to foot the whole bill?”

The multi-billion-dollar project has the potential to provide 850,000 barrels a day of oil to Eastern Canada.
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