The train was carrying crude from the region that has spearheaded the revival in the use of oil trains in North America: North Dakota's Bakken shale.... Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has enabled North Dakota to quickly become the No. 2 oil producer in the United States, but the state has few pipelines to carry its new product to market.... So the oil industry has turned to rail to move crude to refineries on the East, West and Gulf coasts. The train that derailed at Lac-Mégantic was bound for a refinery in New Brunswick, east of Quebec....Sabotage?
An important factor keeping the cost of train transport down for oil producers has been the practice of sending the crude in trains made entirely of tanker cars of oil, like the train that crashed in Lac-Mégantic. Shipping in these "unit trains," long lines of black tankers that look like a moving above-ground pipeline, is cheaper than the traditional "manifest train" that is a mix of boxcars, flatbeds, grain hoppers, and coal cars (an operator needs a "manifest," or list, to keep track of what's aboard.) New onloading and offloading stations are being built especially for all-oil trains.
If it was sabotage, what interests did the saboteurs have in mind? They could have been opponents of fracking, but they could have been proponents of pipelines — radical environmentalists or radical opponents of environmentalism.