We examined data pertaining to the safety of three modes of oil transport in North America and found that on an apples-to-apples basis, transporting a billion tons of oil over a mile of distance by pipeline has a very low likelihood of leakage -- less than one incident per billion ton-miles. The risk of a leak by rail is twice as high.
The Lac Megantic rail disaster is a terrible tragedy for the many who suffered loss. It is also an object lesson in why industries dominated by large corporations cannot be trusted to regulate themselves -- not even when there is nominal oversight by government. Corporations, when they grow large, go public, and take on professional management teams, devolve from being human institutions governed at least in part by genuine ethical constraints, into machine-like entities that are devoid of moral sensibility.