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Mayor happy with new federal rail regulations

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 01, 2014 10:28 am

New Federal rail regulations will force trains moving through Airdrie to slow down and to create an Emergency Assistance Plan in case of emergencies.
New Federal rail regulations will force trains moving through Airdrie to slow down and to create an Emergency Assistance Plan in case of emergencies.
FILE PHOTO/Rocky View Publishing

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The Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt, announced new regulations on April 23 for trains to address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s initial recommendations regarding the investigation into the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec train derailment.

The Lac-Mégantic train was carrying 74 cars of crude oil when the train ran away and derailed in July of last year, resulting in the fire and explosion of multiple tank cars. Forty-two people were confirmed dead with five more missing and presumed dead. According to media reports, more than 30 buildings in the town’s centre, roughly half of the downtown area, were destroyed.

In the wake of the derailment, Transport Canada took steps to try and reduce accidents in communities along railway lines.

Effective immediately, Transport Canada will issue a Protective Direction removing the least crash-resistant tank cars from dangerous goods service; require tank cars used to transport crude oil and ethanol that do not meet the standard published in January 2014 in Canada Gazette to be up to code; issue a Protective Direction requiring Emergency Response Assistance Plans for crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and ethanol; create a task force that brings stakeholders such as municipalities, first responders, railways and shippers together to strengthen emergency response capacity across the country; and require railway companies to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and implement other key operating practices.

“What I like is that these new regulations are effective immediately,” said Mayor Peter Brown.

The Emergency Response Assistant Plan will be a welcome addition to go along side The City of Airdrie emergency response plan, Brown said.

“Reducing the speed of the trains in Airdrie – which will provide some challenges at rail crossings – will be the safest for the trains,” he said.

Brown is hopeful more regulations will come out of the Transport Canada regulations, such as increasing the communication between CP Rail and municipalities as to what the train are carrying through the city.

“Right now we find out 30 days after the train has gone through (city limits) what it was carrying,” he said. “What I understand from our derailment (August 2010) is that emergency crews found out quite quickly what was in the cars, but if an accident were to happen that information should be available immediately.”

On Aug. 3, 2010 a southbound CP train derailed approximately 1.5 km north of Airdrie; south of township road 274 and north of Veterans Blvd.

Thirty cars derailed and the city along with emergency crews began removing the anhydrous ammonia from rail cars to trucks.

As for the speed of the trains, Brown explained that they are currently running at 80 kilometres per hour, but he could not confirm the rate of decrease.

“I’m happy the Government of Canada is looking into ways to reduce rail accidents but I would like for them to take it a bit further,” Brown said. “One month isn’t (good) enough … we have consistent product moving through the city, and (need to know sooner as to what is coming through.)”

To see the new regulations visit http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=841129


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