Thursday, November 21, 2013

Conservative Government announces safety measures for transport of dangerous goods by rail

With the tragic events of Lac Megantic still fresh in the minds of many Canadians, particularly those who live on a rail line, new measures were announced Wednesday to provide municipalities with more complete information as to what passes through their communities.

Effective immediately any Canadian Class 1 railway which transports dangerous goods must provide municipalities with yearly information, presented by quarter regarding the nature and volume of dangerous goods that are transported through the municipality.

Other measures are to be put in place for Non Canadian Class 1 railway companies, regarding their responsibilities to the reporting process.

While the information will be more of a statistical review of what the railway carries, as opposed to a comprehensive manifest of each particular trainload, the information will be of particular use to first responder agencies as far as planning for accidents in their communities. Allowing them to have a better understanding of the variety of goods that transit through their response zones.

The measures are in effect for three years, or until cancelled by the Minister, to be used as a form of bridge while the Federal Government develops appropriate and permanent regulations.

Some with an interest in safety matters across the country are suggesting that expanding the information flow further is a goal that all involved should be seeking. In particular, providing for as much in the way of detail to the dangers that first responders and communities face from the transit of dangerous goods.

You can review the particulars of that announcement from the Transport Canada media release of Wednesday.

For the Northwest, Canadian National is the only primary railroad for transport of dangerous goods across the Northern corridor and the concerns over dangerous goods has become a major discussion point for each community between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

As we outlined in August, the issue of rail safety has been on the mind of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.  Recently it has been pushing for better information delivery between railways and communities and they heralded today's announcement as a welcome development in making the transit of goods safer across the nation.

More background on today's announcement and the requirements of the railroads can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Railways must give cities annual data on hazardous materials, Ottawa says
CBC-- Tighter regulations coming for freight train companies Railways must tell cities about dangerous cargo, Transport Minister Raitt orders
Canadian Transportation and Logistics-- Federal Government to increase transportation of dangerous goods information sharing between rail companies and municipalities

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