What to do with transporting hazardous liquids

It was a tragedy with what happened in the small Canadian town of Lac Megantic in the province of Quebec. As of today, the death toll has risen to 15 and still more than a couple of dozen missing.

Forty buildings in the town’s downtown area were burned down or heavily damaged. Heat so hot that some bodies may be hard to identify.

But the question has come up – and this affects probably every place in the world – is how to properly transport crude, liquid nitrogen, and other dangerous liquids.

For most areas of the world, you are limited to by train, by truck or by pipeline. [Of course by ship but even that isn’t safe. Remember Exxon Valdez years ago?]

So let’s take a look at the three options [and I’m excluding anything illegal such as terrorism].

  • By train. Always a chance of a derailment. Trains will have multiple cars with one or more types of liquids.
  • By truck. Possibly as dangerous as a train but limited to one tanker. If a truck crashes [or someone goes into a truck], this could cause serious ingeries or death especially on a highway or if there is driver fatigue.
  • By pipeline. Personally this is the safest way and the fastest way. Chances of an explosion is limited to illegal acts. Only thing to really worry about is a pipe leak causing an environmental problem.

But they all could have environmental problems from pollution from the explosions to liquids getting into the soil or water.

Towns and cities are always worried about derailments. The mayor of Lac Megantic has said that she wants the tracks moved away from the town. Problem is, is that just about every town and city having railway lines. Towns and cities were built around the railway – not vice versa. When the railway went west in Canada or the US in the 1800s, towns were created near the train tracks. How else did they get supplies?

Finally, an issue is with federal regulations and inspections. Just about every country in the world has had cutback because of the economy. And where does the government cut? Safety inspections. Yes they may increase regulations but who inspects them to verify the regulations are being enforced?

[Update 2013/07/13:] Unfortunately the death toll has climbed past 30 confirmed bodies with still another 20 missing. The local church rang the church bell 50 times at a memorial today – one ring per victim.]


About ebraiter
computer guy

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