Trains vs. pipelines: 2 Sask. crashes respark debate over risks of moving oil

A significant amount of the diluted bitumen onboard the Feb. 6 train burned off, the province added.

But that’s a health hazard until itself, said Karen Clay, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Clay’s own 2014 study looked at pipeline and railway spills’ contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. She found that moving oil by train causes about 50 per cent more GHG emissions than carrying it through pipelines.

Clay also concluded that train spills are costlier when it comes to cleanup and hospitalization spending.

“These numbers tend to be on the [conservative] end because these are based on reports by shippers….” Clay said. “How much they spend is….not perhaps all encompassing of the total kind of social damage.”