Thursday, November 21, 2013

Canada steps up hazmat reporting requirements

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Lisa Raitt Lisa Raitt CBC News
Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, issued a directive that requires railroads to provide annual information to municipalities on the volume and nature of hazmat being transported through their jurisdictions.

Raitt said her directive is in response to a request from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, following the July derailment and explosion of a runaway Montreal, Maine & Atlantic crude oil train that destroyed much of the downtown of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Railroads will also be required to conduct risk assessments and emergency response planning, and to train firefighters and other first responders.

Raitt, speaking with reporters, acknowledged that having such data would not have prevented the Lac-Mégantic accident from occurring. “This isn’t about prevention. This is about response,” she said.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities President Claude Dauphin welcomed the directive. “The Lac-Mégantic tragedy, and recent derailments in other parts of the country, have underscored the critical role that municipalities play in planning for and responding to railemergencies involving dangerous goods," he said.

New Democrats leader Thomas Mulcair called Raitt’s directive “a Band-Aid solution,” complaining that CBR volume of has soared without a corresponding increase in federal safety inspectors. “Informing the public three months or one year later is not anything to brag about,” he said.