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Minister Raitt responds to Transportation Safety Board recommendations following Lac-Mégantic

Reaffirms commitment to maintaining and enhancing the safety of Canada's rail sector

OTTAWA, Jan. 23, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, issued this statement today in response to the Transportation Safety Board's three recommendations related to the ongoing investigation into the July 2013 train accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

"The safety of Canadians remains Transport Canada's priority. Transport Canada officials are reviewing the Transportation Safety Board's recommendations. The department is committed to doing all it can to maintain and enhance the safety of Canada's rail sector.

"Following the accident in Lac-Mégantic, Transport Canada took immediate action to improve rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods by requiring:

  • All railway operators to further enhance the safety of existing railway operations and the security of railway transportation.
  • Railway companies to develop rules in this regard for the longer term.
  • Any person who imports or offers for transport crude oil to conduct classification testing if the current tests had not been performed prior to July 7, 2013.
  • Railway companies to share information with municipalities, which will further support municipal emergency planners and first responders.

"In addition, the Government of Canada has committed a combined $155 million in federal support to Lac-Mégantic for response and recovery and additional decontamination and clean-up efforts.

"The Government of Canada has taken several other measures to strengthen railway safety:

  • Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, Transport Canada conducted more than 30,000 inspections.
  • Invested more than $100 million in our railway safety system.
  • Continued to hire more inspectors.
  • Increased fines for companies found to break our regulations.
  • Set the groundwork for creating whistleblower protection for employees who raise safety concerns.
  • Will require each railway to have an executive legally responsible for safety.

"On January 10, 2014, Transport Canada proposed tough new standards for the DOT-111 tank cars, including thicker steel requirements as well as the addition of top fitting and head shield protection for the tank car. New cars will be built to the new, stronger amended standard with enhanced safety requirements.

"Transport Canada continues to work with all its stakeholders, including officials in the United States, as we look together to what additional requirements may be needed for the North American fleet.  This includes exploring the retirement, retrofit or repurposing of older DOT-111 tank cars. As these tank cars regularly cross Canadian and American borders, a North American solution is required.

"In addition, I asked the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (SCOTIC) to review safety management systems for railways and the transport of dangerous goods program. Transport Canada has also launched three industry-led working groups (Classification, Emergency Response, and Means of Containment) to provide recommendations by the end of January on short term and long term safety actions and enhancements that could be made to the DOT-111 tank cars.

"We recognize that there is still a lot of work to do. The department remains committed to working with the rail industry, all levels of government, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, international partners and others to continuously improve the safety of the railway system in Canada."

SOURCE Transport Canada

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