LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec — Harper has called railroad transit "far more environmentally challenging" while trying to persuade the Obama administration to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Greenpeace Canada said Sunday that federal safety regulations haven't kept up with the enormous growth in the shipment of oil by rail.
Officials with the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway said that despite the disaster, they feel transporting oil by rail is safe.
"No matter what mode of transportation you are going to have incidents. That's been proven. This is an unfortunate incident," said Joe McGonigle, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway's vice president of marketing.
He said the company believes the train's brakes were the cause. "The train was parked, it was tied up. The brakes were secured. Somehow it got loose," he said.
McGonigle said there was no reason to suspect any criminal or terror-related activity.
Wayde Schafer, a North Dakota spokesman for the Sierra Club, has predicted such a catastrophe ever since crude began leaving the North Dakota by rail in 2008.
"I think anybody could have foreseen this," said Schafer, whose downtown Bismarck office is just two blocks from a rail line that carries several mile-long oil trains daily through the heart of the North Dakota's capital city. "It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen and it happened."