Maine has no plans to halt oil rail shipments after Quebec tragedy

Mon Jul 8, 2013 11:36am EDT
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By Dave Sherwood

BOWDOINHAM, Maine (Reuters) - Maine has no plans to review shipments of crude through the state on rail lines after a deadly oil train derailment just across the border in Quebec's Lac-Megantic over the weekend, the state's Department of Transportation said.

The train was hauling about 50,000 barrels of crude from North Dakota's Bakken shale development to Irving Oil's 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) plant in Saint John, New Brunswick.

A derailment and explosion early on Saturday near the small town of Lac-Megantic killed five people, and another 40 people are still missing, authorities said.

Nearly 30,000 bpd of crude crossed through Maine in March, up from under 2,000 bpd a year earlier, as part of a surge in oil by rail transit caused by the U.S. shale boom. The growth in oil shipments through Maine has caused protests among environmental groups in the state.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, called the Quebec accident "tragic," but said the state had no plans to review movements of crude oil through Maine.

"It's on the same parallel as a tractor-trailer accident. It's private commerce and we don't get involved," Talbot said.

"There's no appetite to curb or otherwise alter the shipments of crude in Maine," he said.

PROTESTS   Continued...

A family watches the scene of an explosion by the track that leads to derailed trains in Lac Megantic, Quebec, July 7, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi