Another train loaded with fossil fuels derailed in Canada over the weekend, triggering explosions and fueling a big fire.

A train derailment in Gainford, Alberta is seen in this aerial photo courtesy of the RCMP and Parkland County, October 19, 2013.


Firefighters did not bother battling the flames at the accident near Edmonton in Alberta. Instead, they allowed the propane that was leaking from ruptured rail cars to burn itself out. Nobody was hurt, but a nearby town was evacuated. From a weekend Globe and Mail report:

The train belongs to Canadian National Railway Co. It derailed in Gainford, a village about 90 kilometres west of Alberta’s capital, at around 1 a.m. MT Saturday. The train was en route to Vancouver from Edmonton.

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Thirteen tanker cars went off the track, according to Louis-Antoine Paquin, a spokesman for CN. Nine of those are pressurized tank cars filled with liquefied petroleum gas in the form of propane, and three of them are on fire.

Four of the derailed tank cars are loaded with oil and have “no indications of any leaks,” he said. Mr. Paquin would not say to whom the shipment belonged.

The accident comes just a few months after a train derailment and explosion in Quebec killed dozens of people and leveled a town. As the North American energy industry booms, more oil and gas are being transported by rail — and that’s leading to more accidents. From Bloomberg:

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The [rail] industry is drawing heightened attention after a train carrying oil jumped the tracks and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July, killing 47.

Railroads are facing new rules that may raise costs as energy companies move more oil on trains amid delays in building new pipelines such as TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL. Across the continent, trains are forecast to move as much as 2 million barrels a day by the end of 2014, according to Calgary-based pipeline operator TransCanada.

Canadian National Railway Chief Operating Officer Jim Vena told reporters that his company operates a safe railroad. “But we do have incidents,” he added. And those incidents can be explosive when shipments of fossil fuels are involved.

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