VANCOUVER, Canada—For nearly two weeks, beginning August 1, the skies over Vancouver were filled with the smoke of forest fires burning in central and northern British Columbia. The smoke from those fires and others farther afield has waxed and waned over much of North America since July. Three days ago, Vancouver and coastal BC and Washington State gained a respite thanks to a weather front from the Pacific Ocean that pushed the smoke eastward. But the respite could end soon, depending on the vagaries of weather patterns.
A fracturing of Canada’s social democratic party has opened as party members and much of its electoral base express their dissatisfaction with the conservative economic, social and environmental policies that predominate in the party’s decision-making echelons.
Dissension came to a head at the New Democratic Party’s national convention in Edmonton, Alberta April 8 to 10. Party leader Tom Mulcair was rebuked in a confidence vote on his continued leadership, failing to reach even fifty per cent support of the 2,800 delegates gathered.
A bad turn of events for the local environment and for some of the oil barons targeting their entire planet in their climate-wrecking plans. That’s an apt summary of the oil spill that has fouled the beaches and harbour of Vancouver BC beginning on April 8.
Details of the events leading to last July’s oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec have been made public for the first time. They reinforce an existing portrait of the accident as a perfect storm of corporate malfeasance.
A trial of three employees of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) had a brief opening session in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, May 13. They are charged with criminal negligence in the oil train crash and conflagration on July 6, 2013, that killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the town.
The three - engineer Thomas Harding, manager of operations Jean Demaître, and traffic controller Richard Labrie - were formally charged and then released on bail. Their next court appearance is September 11.
The latest North American oil train crash occurred yesterday, April 30, in the heart of the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. Fourteen wagons of crude oil derailed from a CSX train in the middle of the afternoon.
A city spokeswoman said three or four wagons caught fire. The burning wagons spilled their loads into the James River. The surface of the river was on fire from the oil contamination. A portion of the city center was evacuated.
The company seeking to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has had a massive explosion on its decades-old natural gas pipeline in southern Manitoba. The rupture of the TransCanada PipeLines (TCPL) gas line occurred in the middle of the night on Saturday, January 25 near the village of Otterburne. A massive fireball erupted into the night sky and burned for many hours.
North America’s frenzied oil-by-rail industry began the new year in the same way it ended the old one—with a spectacular derailment and fire of oil train cars on the outskirts of a small community. It’s the latest calamity by an industry growing at a pace that should frighten anyone concerned with public safety and the world’s warming climate.