Train carrying fuel runs off tracks in Mississippi

Another train carrying fuel and chemicals has derailed in the latest in a series of similar accidents.

This time, a Canadian National Railway (CNI) train ran off the track in Southern Mississippi on Friday.

The train was transporting fuel oil, liquid fertilizer and methanol, and while some of the cargo leaked, there were no explosions.

The incidents have raised doubts about the safety of moving combustible goods by train. The accident in Mississippi came on the day that the State Department released a report that was favorable to TransCanada's (TRP) Keystone XL pipeline.

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Comments (13)
  • whiff
    , contributor
    Comments (988) | Send Message
    Has their been any definitive publication of the causes of these rail accidents? If it is a matter of neglect in equipment or right-of-way maintenance, the railroads need to spend whatever it takes to make things right - they are shooting themselves in the foot if they don't maintain their rolling stock and right-of-ways.
    2 Feb 2014, 08:44 AM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (166) | Send Message
    Is there any safe way to transport explosive and combustible material? I am pretty sure pipelines have leaked and exploded in the past!
    2 Feb 2014, 11:29 AM Reply Like
  • James Sands
    , contributor
    Comments (2729) | Send Message
    I agree with BIG_BEN.


    These accidents have occurred regardless of infrastructure. There are risks the second these materials are transported. Don't think for a second that safety is the number one reason why Keystone is being lobbied to be built. It is to line the company's pockets with $$.


    Don't forget that people are involved in the process (the primary reason why accidents happen). Many of our interstate highways are completely safe and post speed limits at certain levels to ensure a driver can react in time to variables (assuming they are staying at the appropriate car length behind another driver based on speed rate). What happens though......people disobey the restriction in place for THEIR safety benefit, and crash. Then what happens, the media makes it look like this is terrible and needs something to mitigate these issues. Then the public claims that we need better safety.


    Let me ask a question, if everyone drove 45 mph on a roadway, what would happen to the severity of accidents? A better question is what would the typical reaction be to this question? Probably a snide remark that it is not a realistic goal. But for safety it would be the best solution. Speed reduction would have the greatest improvement on severity of accidents. So I would contend that society itself does not really value safety, just by driving behavior. How many people die a year from car accidents versus train derailments?


    Society is never meant to be perfect. We do not have the intellect to make it perfect. There are too many people who do not value life because they are able to do what they want without consequence until something really happens. This event does not necessarily change their behavior either.


    There will always be those who attempt to do what is best for others, versus those who will take what they can for their own interest. Just take a look at our own sphere of influence where we live, work, etc. I'm sure it is not perfect. From this experience we should be able to understand why bad things happen and just know that there are people working hard to fix them, and there are people who just are not as concerned about it.
    2 Feb 2014, 12:02 PM Reply Like
  • marpy
    , contributor
    Comments (1775) | Send Message
    Keystone would be safer than any pipeline in operation today and pipelines in general are safer than rail transport for moving oil and gas.
    2 Feb 2014, 10:40 PM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1842) | Send Message
    Rail accidents are common, it's just that after the Canadian explosion now they make the news. We have had NG pipeline explosions but have never experienced an oil pipeline explode, leaks are not uncommon however. The Lac Megantic disaster was a real surprise but we have had two smaller explosive train accidents since then. the Bakken type crude is light and much more flammable than thought. It does argue for more pipelines vs. rail and sturdier tank cars from TRN and ARII at the very least. PWR is the contractor on the XL if it gets approved.
    2 Feb 2014, 01:07 PM Reply Like
  • Worn out 123
    , contributor
    Comments (462) | Send Message
    It would help the company and the public on more than one level if our president would get government out of the way of the transport business. Government running business is like a novice 16 year old driver racing a Lotus. We have quite enough semis on the hywys already.
    2 Feb 2014, 02:01 PM Reply Like
  • Fr33f0rm
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
    What would help is if corporation protections were lessened. There is ALWAYS pressure in engineering and science to cut costs to meet projections without regard to longer term risks. Quality and safety are always laid out on the chopping block and government regulations are the only thing that stays the executioner's hand.


    Regulations are a storehouse of experience because most regulations on the books were written with the blood of someone who had died and most executive decision-makers have held their posts for less than 7 years. Anyone that rails against regulation has never worked in manufacturing.


    If I am reading your comment correctly, you are suggesting that it is the POTUS' fault that the train rolled over. It is your right to express your opinions but when you see the words in front of your face, you should read them before clicking the reply button.
    2 Feb 2014, 04:34 PM Reply Like
  • Worn out 123
    , contributor
    Comments (462) | Send Message
    The danger herein is more than a rail accident. Government is intruding into the private sector by inches and it is telling. The debt is growing regardless of clever explanations or who is POTUS at present. The answer from the current and likely future POTUS is growing government, govt. intrusion, coercion, and Marxist "redistribution" stifling incentive and strangling liberty. In short, politics is strangling our otherwise vibrant economy.
    I saw the words. I wrote them. I do not ask you agree. Nor do I call you a libtard or other derogatory names. Please don't refer to me as a Teabagger, etc. What I am is critical of govt. as is the responsibility of every American, now and in the future, and I am displeased with both the senate, the house, and president, but, for different reasons. All together they are ruining the economy and when it is gone little else will matter.
    3 Feb 2014, 10:28 AM Reply Like
  • Fr33f0rm
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
    I apologize if my tone appeared too harsh but it seemed that you were implying something fallacious but not stating it directly that stuff makes my blood boil. I have never used derisive terms to describe conservatives and I consider myself a conservative in many respects. But, yes, I align myself more with the people on the left because I believe the country, in its current state, has drifted too far to the right.


    Ultimately. government is the only entity with the ability to punish those that harm others.


    The common argument for "free-market" advocates is that the market will punish wrongdoers. But this is rarely the case.


    -Bad labor practices (i.e. benefits cuts and terminating injured workers) have been rewarded by the stock market.
    -Customers rarely learn enough about the companies they buy from to make "morally" informed decisions.
    -If executives are divorced from the legal repercussions of their actions (S Corps), they have no duty to act in the long term best interests of the company if they can make a quick buck. Therefore: they cut quality and safety.
    -The natural tendency is for money to go up the ladder and blame to go down
    -It is only though "fairness" imposed on the system that the country can avoid becoming the aristocratic trap that other countries had become. The "aristocratic traps", by the way, drove people to America for opportunity.
    23 Feb 2014, 04:10 PM Reply Like
  • James Sands
    , contributor
    Comments (2729) | Send Message
    Regulation can be very helpful, but the tend is to over-regulate, or regulate an area which is more political than directly correlated to the issues.


    A great example is California's up-and-coming "zero emissions" policies for the freight industry. The inherent issue is that developers are able to commingle with politicians to develop residential land uses adjacent to industrial areas to make a quick buck. Ironically these residential areas become the poorest property values over time. Has this practice stopped, not at all. It is happening today and will continue to happen over the next few years to decades.


    But the remedy is to place higher costs on the freight industry so the residential areas do not suffer from emissions and the health risks associated with them? Kind of sick to think any politician would back this with what really goes on. Lets help the people who we are knowingly placing at risk, maybe it is guilt. It would be cheaper to pay for housing in a totally separate area for the impacted population (not that this is ideal, just hypothetical), than to place higher costs on the freight industry; which will end up eliminating jobs through smaller players who cannot compete with larger companies. Sounds good for developers, JB Hunt, UP, BNSF, etc.


    I'm all for the most clean and efficient use of vehicles transporting our goods, but placing the burden on the entire freight industry when the key issue is the land use policy in place, is not a good regulation. Putting the thought into the public's mind that "zero emissions" is something achievable without considering the level of capital to implement it at the scale of the industry is poor practice. I'm not going to mention specifics but there are other well-known "cart-before-the-horse" regulations that have been passed of late not really taking into account impacts until after-the-fact.


    We cannot forget that almost all new regulations for one component of an industry are most often driven by the private interests of another industry. Natural gas is a great example of this. So I don't necessarily believe that "government regulations are the only thing that stays the executioner's hand" because the government is not a third-party in this equation, nor an unbiased entity, nor does it even act in the best interest of everyone. There is a better chance of grass-roots movements to have an impact to help communities.


    Government is typically used strategically for the best interests of companies looking to maximize their opportunities. We can tell ourselves that regulation is inherently good, but then we completely dismiss the fact that there are always corporate winners, fluid corporate adjusters, and corporate losers when it comes to regulation. All of these changes impact the global economy and communities within it.


    The realities of competition are not for the faint of heart. And if any of us are going to truly espouse idealism against this, we better think twice about where we live, and what we buy, because that is the primary driver for how goods move, and what areas of the world are impacted.
    2 Feb 2014, 05:01 PM Reply Like
  • Fr33f0rm
    , contributor
    Comments (300) | Send Message
    The nature of business-government relationships is much different now than in the 1970s. We now have more monopolies and oligopolies than any time in most of our lifetimes.


    Because of the small number of actors in most sectors and the existence of trade groups (whose legality could be called into question), competitive sectors can jockey for the affections of government. We, as consumers, are doubly harmed by actors within sectors moving in concert because the actors do not adequately compete with each other and the sectors tend to have significant infrastructure requirements so we cannot go from gasoline powered cars to diesel powered cars without getting an entirely new car.


    Governance has, historically, been the driver of wholesale change when there was enough popular support, generated by grassroots campaigns, to make a change. You cannot say that the Civil Rights movement, the breakup of monopolies, or the introduction of traffic safety was driven by corporate lobbying.


    Historically, it was common for government to advocate for an industry but it has been only recently that legislators have become as beholden to corporate masters as they are now. There have been cases where legislators have submitted ALEC legislation without changing the community-specific details.


    In a more "free-market" system, legislators would be free to openly admit their sponsorships and commit corrupt practices without worry of retribution. This is the direction we are headed and it is encouraged by the right leaning factions because they claim that they want "smaller government" but not a one has advocated reducing subsidies for the largest companies.


    "There is a better chance of grass-roots movements to have an impact to help communities. " I really wanted to highlight this phrase because I am very interested in what mechanism of change that you see in grass-roots movements. Unless the "grass-roots" movement is corporate sponsored, there is very little result from the action. Recently, "Occupy Wall Street" inspired activists to pop up in major cities across the world and, at the end of the day, any change that occurred was modest and accomplished through people asking for change through government.


    You took some big swings above but facts seem to have tripped you up a bit.
    1) Please explain what Natural Gas has to do with your argument?
    2) How are governments "typically used strategically for the best interest of companies"? Governmental actors are supposed to be referees and they should be acting as third parties in nearly all cases.
    3) Competition is a great thing and I am a capitalist. And, history has shown us that the country works better when there is competition so I am an advocate of aggressive break up of monopolistic and oligopolistic actors.
    3 Feb 2014, 02:08 AM Reply Like
  • Hendershott
    , contributor
    Comments (1842) | Send Message
    The rail roads want the regulation too....better tank cars....they're very much at risk if a train blows up in a populated area.
    3 Feb 2014, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • DonSimon
    , contributor
    Comments (156) | Send Message
    Pipeline leaks are statistically less than railway accidents. Plus if there is a rail tank derailment it generally is more devastating. Pipeline leaks are comparativelysafer. Compare the miles of pipelines and the miles of railways in the USA. Per mile transporting of products is safer.
    Because of the oil boom the railroads are transporting more oil in tank cars . Therefore statistically increasing the chance of a mess. The same volume through a pipeline is safer. Let us get off the political garbage and get the pipeline going. It is good for the USA and Canada AND we can tell some of our Venezuelan friends to drinks their oil
    6 Feb 2014, 05:47 PM Reply Like
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