Over fifty groups call for tougher oil transportation safety rules

Feature story - July 22, 2013
In the wake of the Lac-Mégantic disaster and the numerous recent oil spills, over 50 organizations from across Canada are calling on Prime Minister Harper to improve the safety of Canada’s oil transportation system. The groups represent environmental, labour, social justice and faith sectors.

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“Even as we mourn the dead, we must fight for the living,” said Maude Barlow, Chairperson, Council of Canadians. “These measures cannot undo the damage done to Lac-Mégantic and other regions, but they can help reduce the risk of future disasters.”

The organizations are calling on the federal government to:


  • Implement an immediate ban on shipping oil in the older, type 111A tanker cars that have been identified as spill-prone by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board;
  • Reinstate mandatory two-person minimum train crews; and
  • Launch a comprehensive, independent safety review of all hydrocarbon transportation: pipelines, rail, tanker and truck. This review should include public hearings and an examination of the role of deregulation and privatization in reducing safety standards.

The call was made as provincial premiers prepare to meet this week at the annual Council of the Federation. The groups hope provincial leaders will echo their call for action on the safety of the nation’s oil transportation system.

“Workers and our communities end up paying the price when the federal government chooses to look the other way as companies cut corners on safety to get oil to market, said Pierre Patry from CSN. “Regulations have been weakened as the amount of oil being moved has increased. It is time to take a step back and have a comprehensive, public review of safety in order to prevent future catastrophes.”

“Transporting oil is always risky, but both rail and pipelines can be a lot safer than they are today,” said Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada Climate and Energy Coordinator. “Breaking our addiction to oil is the only real solution and something we must do to combat climate change, but as we make the transition to clean energy we must reduce the harm from transporting and using oil.”

Individuals can show their support for these measures by signing an online petition launched by LeadNow at www.leadnow.ca/lac-megantic.

The complete list of groups calling for improved oil transport safety regulations:

  • Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS)
  • Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA)
  • Attention FragÎles
  • Audubon Society of New Hampshire
  • BC SEA (BC Sustainable Energy Association)
  • Bow Valley Naturalists
  • Canada' Citizens Climate Lobby
  • Canadian Association of Physiciations for the Environment (CAPE)
  • Central Athabasca Stewardship Society
  • Centrale des Syndicats nationaux (CSN)
  • Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal
  • Citizens for Responsible Development
  • Coalition québécoise pour une gestion responsable de l'eau, EAU SECOURS!
  • Coalition Saint-Laurent
  • Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs (COVO)
  • Conseil de l'environnement de Laval
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Council of Canadians
  • David Suzuki Foundation
  • DesmogCanada
  • Environmental Defence
  • ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU)
  • Équiterre
  • Ernst Environmental Services
  • Fondation Rivières
  • Forest Ethics Advocacy
  • Global Exchange
  • Greenpeace Canada
  • Greenspiration
  • Keepers of the Athabasca
  • La Coalition Vigilance Oléoduc
  • Les AmiEs de la Terre de Québec
  • Les Citoyens au Courant
  • Manitoba Wildlands
  • Mouvement vert Mauricie
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Polaris Institute
  • Public Interest Alberta
  • Regroupement interrégional gaz de schiste de la Vallée du St-Laurent
  • Sierra Club BC
  • Sierra Club of Maine
  • Sierra Club Prairie
  • Sierra Club Quebec
  • Société pour vaincre la pollution
  • Toronto Climate Campaign
  • Union des consommateurs
  • Vermont chapter, Sierra Club
  • West Coast Environmental Law
  • Wilderness Committee
  • 350 Maine
  • 350.org
  • 350NH
  • 350Vermont