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

Mon Jul 8, 2013 9:19pm EDT
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By Dave Sherwood

HERMON, 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 the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic over the weekend, the state Department of Transportation said.

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

A derailment and explosion early on Saturday near the small town of Lac-Megantic killed 13, with another 37 still missing Monday night, 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 made possible by the U.S. shale boom. The growth in oil shipments through Maine has inspired 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...

First responders fight burning trains following a train derailment and explosion in Lac Megantic, Quebec July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jean Gauthier