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In response to an the column “More oil by rail now than at time of Mégantic disaster,” by Linda McQuaig, I’d like to set the record straight on the many areas in which meaningful progress has been made by the Government of Canada to improve rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods since the rail tragedy in Lac-Mégantic on July 6, 2013.
Transport Canada has taken significant actions to further improve the safety of transporting dangerous goods by rail in the areas of prevention, effective response and accountability.
Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac-Megantic, Que., on July 6, 2013. (PAUL CHIASSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
We adjusted train speeds, increased inspections, strengthened insurance requirements and improved information sharing with municipalities and first responders.
We have developed a new rail tank car standard specifically designed for transporting flammable liquids by rail.
We have accelerated timelines to ensure the mandatory use of the safest possible containers to transport dangerous goods.
We have increased the number of dangerous goods and rail safety inspectors at Transport Canada from 144 in 2013, to 259 in 2017.
We have imposed stricter requirements for securing unattended trains.
This past September, I issued Protective Direction 39, ending the transport of certain flammable liquids in older, less-crash-resistant tank cars even faster than originally planned.
Our government’s Transportation Modernization Act amended the Railway Safety Act to mandate the installation of locomotive voice and video recorders, which will provide information that will lead to a better understanding of the events leading up to an accident, as well as help prevent future accidents.
Transport Canada is also acting on improving fatigue management in the rail industry by incorporating up-to-date fatigue science in current work/rest rules to further strengthen Canada’s safety regime.
This article first appeared on www.thestar.com
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