Lac Megantic spill worst in North America says Equiterre

Posted By: Patrick Lejtenyi · 7/24/2013 2:56:00 PM

Steven Guilbeault, a senior director at Montreal-based environmental organization Équiterre, says the Lac Mégantic disaster is the biggest land-based oil spill in North American history. 

It beats out the previous one by about two million litres. That spill occured in July 2010, when a pipeline owned by Calgary-based oil company Enbridge ruptured, spilling 3.7 million litres into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. 

That accident happened just two months after the Deepwater Horizon, an offshore drilling platform owned by petro-giant BP, exploded, killing 11 and sending hundreds of millions of litres into the Gulf of Mexico.

Guilbeault says eased regulations and a willingness to kowtow to the oil industry led to the fireball that engulfed much of downtown Lac Mégantic last July 6. 

He charges that the federal government is far too closely involved with the oil industry to take the well being of Canadians seriously. 

"The Harper government has that they would abolish - and they have - a lot of the environmental laws and regulations we had to make it easier for industry. Well, that's what self-regulation leads to."

The federal government has issued new regulations in the wake of the disaster regarding rail transport of dangerous materials, including requiring two engineers on board and prohibiting them from leaving trains unattended.

But critics charge that Transport Canada is only reintroducing measures which had previously been repealed.

Photo courtesy the Gazette

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