2014

Harper government acts to increase transportation of dangerous goods information sharing between rail companies and municipalities

OTTAWA, Nov. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today issued a protective direction directing rail companies to share information with municipalities. By issuing the protective direction, the Minister has acted to further enhance safety in the transportation of dangerous goods and facilitate an ongoing dialogue between railways and municipalities

"We recognize the responsibilities of all parties involved in maintaining safe railway transportation in Canada," said Minister Raitt. "Our government remains committed to two-way dialogue and information exchange with key transportation stakeholders in communities across Canada. We are demonstrating that today with the issuance of this protective direction."

Effective immediately, Transport Canada requires that:

  • Any Canadian Class 1 railway company that transports dangerous goods must 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; and

  • Any person who transports dangerous goods by rail, who is not a Canadian Class 1 railway company,  must  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.

The safety of Canadians is Transport Canada's top priority. The department continues to work closely with all stakeholders, including the rail industry and municipalities to examine all means of improving rail safety and the transportations of dangerous goods.

"Our government is taking strong action to protect public safety," said the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. "Local governments and first responders are the front line in keeping our communities safe, and we are ensuring they have the information they need about the dangerous goods being transported in their communities."

These measures address requests from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and its members for more information on the dangerous goods being transported by rail in their communities. In addition these measures further support municipal emergency planners and first responders with their emergency planning and response training.

"Today's announcement is welcome news for Canadian communities," said Claude Dauphin, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities "It sends a clear message that the Government of Canada fully agrees that local governments need to know basic information about dangerous goods being transported through their communities."

Railway safety and transportation of dangerous goods regulations exist to protect the safety of the public. Transport Canada does not hesitate to take new steps whenever appropriate.

The Protective Direction was issued pursuant to section 32 of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 and will remain in effect for three years, or until cancelled by the Minister or her designate, in order to allow the department sufficient time to develop appropriate permanent regulations.


Backgrounder


The safe transportation of dangerous goods:
Support for municipalities and first responders

The safety of Canadians is Transport Canada's top priority.

In Canada, the transportation of dangerous goods is strictly regulated under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992. Dangerous goods must be properly classified and transported in the proper means of containment manufactured to a Transport Canada approved standard. Transport Canada verifies compliance through inspections.  Transport companies are inspected regularly. Additional requirements include: proper documentation, safety marks, reporting and training.

Existing Support for Municipalities and First Responders

Railcars, as well as road vehicles, are all required to display placards identifying the dangerous goods being transported. Placards clearly identify the specific product identification number and class of dangerous goods, which provides immediate hazard identification in the event of an accident or incident. It is the responsibility of the shipper to properly classify and label dangerous goods being transported.  Transport Canada verifies compliance through regular inspections.

Companies are also required to share information with Transport Canada (for example - a rail shipping document) immediately following an incident.

Transport Canada operates the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC) to assist emergency response personnel in handling dangerous goods emergencies. CANUTEC is staffed by bilingual professional scientists specialized in emergency response and experienced in interpreting technical information and providing advice to first responders. This advice includes plume (air emission) analysis, evacuation and protective distances for public and first responders, personal protective equipment for fire fighters, risk of BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) and preventive measures, detection methods for volatile organic compounds and exposure limits to those, fire suppression recommendation, and physical and chemical properties of a dangerous good.

Municipalities can ask rail companies for information regarding the types of dangerous goods materials that are being transported. Moreover, Industry Associations have in place programs that work with communities regarding the products being manufactured and transported through a community. One example of such a program is the Chemical Industry of Canada's Responsible Care program. For more information on Responsible Care please contact the CIAC at 613-237-6215.

Transport Canada also supports first responders and municipalities by distributing, free of charge, an Emergency Response Guidebook to first responders, 911 centres and other dangerous goods professionals. The department provides a Guidebook to each first responder vehicle (police, fire and ambulance) in Canada. This comprehensive guide, developed by Transport Canada in partnership with the United States and Mexico, enables first responders to quickly identify the specific or generic hazards of the material(s) involved in an incident. It provides recommended evacuation distances, describes potential hazards of a dangerous good, and supplies safety information on first aid, recommended protective clothing, respiratory equipment and evacuation distances.

Further Support for Municipalities and First Responders

Following the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Transport Canada has been examining any other means of improving rail safety and the safe transportation of dangerous goods.

Transport Canada recognizes the responsibilities of all parties involved in maintaining safe transportation in Canada, including provinces, territories, municipalities and industry. We continue to engage in two-way dialogue and information exchange with key transportation stakeholders in communities across Canada. We welcome input from municipal leaders in this process and have demonstrated this with the issuance of a protective direction requiring any person who transports dangerous goods by railway vehicle to share information with municipalities.

Effective immediately, Transport Canada requires that:

  • Any Canadian Class 1 railway company(classified based on an operating revenue exceeding $250 million for each of the previous two years) that transports dangerous goods must 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; and

  • Any person who transports dangerous goods by rail, who is not a Canadian Class 1 railway company,  must  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.

These measures further support emergency planners and first responders with their emergency planning and response training.

The protective direction remains in effect for three years, or until cancelled by the Minister or her designate, in order to allow the department sufficient time to develop appropriate permanent regulations.

November 2013

SOURCE Transport Canada



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