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Regulations require rail companies to disclose dangerous goods

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 11:08 am

The Federal government recently announced new regulations that require rail companies, including CP Rail and CN Rail, to provide municipalities such as Airdrie with information on dangerous goods travelling through communities.
The Federal government recently announced new regulations that require rail companies, including CP Rail and CN Rail, to provide municipalities such as Airdrie with information on dangerous goods travelling through communities.
FILE PHOTO/Rocky View Publishing

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The Federal government announced new regulations that mandating rail companies to share information with municipalities on Nov. 20, a move Mayor Peter Brown believes will give greater transparency for everyone involved in emergency response.

Effective immediately, Transport Canada requires any Canadian Class 1 railway company – such as CP Rail - that transports dangerous goods to provide municipalities with yearly aggregate information, presented by quarter, on the nature and volume of dangerous goods the company transports by rail through that municipality.

“The more information we have the better,” Brown said.

He said, if emergency service staff know what substance is contained in trains going through Airdrie, they can respond accordingly.

In addition, the government now requires any company that transports dangerous goods by rail, which is not a Canadian Class 1 railway company, to provide municipalities with yearly aggregate information on the nature and volume of dangerous goods transported through that municipality and notify municipalities of any significant changes to that information, as soon as possible.

While media reports indicate some leaders like the Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi, are concerned the legislation doesn’t go far enough to inform the municipalities on dangerous goods, Brown believes it is a good start.

“I’ve never seen a piece of legislation that answers all questions on the first go,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction, things will transition, and (in the future) there will be more that they can provide for us.”

According to The Railway Association of Canada, the Railway Safety Act specifies in detail the safety requirements to which federally regulated railways must adhere. The Act was recently extensively reviewed, updated and strengthened by Parliament.

Railways’ performance to the Act’s requirements is subject to audit and enforcement by Transport Canada inspectors, who can issue Notices, Orders, Emergency Directives, and fines.

“Railways in Canada have always shared information about dangerous goods with communities and we support the formalization of information sharing with municipal partners and first responders across Canada,” said Railway Association of Canada President and CEO Michael Bourque.

“Railways have excellent relationships with first responders and we are anxious to help them develop effective and realistic emergency response plans and to be capable of reacting if an incident were to occur.”

Representatives from the Airdrie Fire Fighters Association and CN Rail were not available for comment as of press time.


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