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Oil shipment derailments have been on the rise

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The Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, accident (pictured above) in July killed at least 42 people and destroyed more than 30 buildings after train cars carrying fuel oil derailed and some of the cars exploded, causing Canada's worst railway catastrophe in about 150 years.

While this was the most serious accident involving the derailment of tank cars carrying crude oil, there recently have been others.

• Earlier this month, 21 railcars operated by Norfolk, Va.-Southern Corp. derailed in Vandergrift, Pa., 19 of which carried crude oil and leaked up to 4,500 gallons of heavy crude oil, according to a company spokesman.

• In December, cars of a crude oil train unit operated by the Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF Railway Co. derailed near Casselton, N.D., after a collision, releasing 400,000 gallons of crude oil and leading to the evacuation of about 1,400 people, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

• In November, 26 cars of a 90-car crude oil train derailed in Aliceville, Ala., then the breached tank cars caught fire and released crude oil into a wetland, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The train, operated by Darien, Conn.-based Genesee & Wyoming Inc., spilled nearly 750,000 million gallons of crude oil, according to news reports.