State to probe missing crude-oil reports #PanAm #mepolitics #crudeoil

By Lance Tapley

In the midst of public concern about rail shipments of crude oil after the recent Lac-Mégantic disaster, the Phoenix has learned that Pan Am Railways has not reported, as required by law, how much crude oil it shipped through Maine during April and May.

When questioned about this lack, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced that it was launching an investigation into why the reports weren't filed.

The department, "if necessary, will take appropriate enforcement actions," said Jessamine Logan, DEP spokesperson, on Wednesday, July 10, promising a "thorough" investigation.

"We want to find out exactly why" the company missed the deadlines for two months, she said, stressing that some "leeway" is given for one month's missing report. She had no immediate explanation of why Pan Am was allowed to miss two months.

Pan Am operates a rail line through southern and central Maine, going through such major urban areas as Portland, Lewiston, Waterville, and Bangor. Its line is separate from the west-east rail line across Maine operated by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), whose runaway crude-oil train just across the border from Maine was responsible for the July 6 explosions and inferno that destroyed downtown Lac-Mégantic, killing scores of Quebeckers.

The DEP's website lists enforcement actions as ranging from letters of warning to referral to the attorney general for legal action. The reports are required because a fee is assessed on the oil to pay for state oil-spill cleanup actions. The fee is due with the report, with a penalty if the report is late.

Pan Am said it shipped 1.1 million barrels of crude in the first three months of the year, a big increase in the rate of shipments over 2.3 million for for the whole of 2012, according to the DEP. MMA similarly has vastly increased its oil shipments.

In the case of both railroads, the controversial "fracked" oil comes from North Dakota and goes to the Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick.

Pan Am officials did not immediately return the Phoenix's phone calls. Watch for the Phoenix's story next week for more information.


The photo below, taken by activist Read Brugger in Waterville on June 19, clearly shows tanker cars labeled 1267 - the code designating crude oil:


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