Transport Canada has Ignored Repeated Warnings about Rail Safety

As in-depth media investigative reporting continues to uncover unbelievable stories about the poor state of Canada’s rail safety, it is becoming clear that both the rail industry and Transport Canada – which has the legislative responsibility for rail safety – are to blame. Both have ignored repeated warnings about faulty rail safety from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada, audits, rail safety experts, and whistleblowing railway employees.

Railroaded dangerous goods sign imageRailroaded dangerous goods sign image 2The most recent revelation is an internal Transport Canada audit conducted in 2006 warning the department that Quebec and the Prairies had the highest rates of non-compliance with federal rules governing the transportation of dangerous goods (Edmonton Journal). The audit estimated non-compliance rates from inspections in the Quebec region at 54% and 59% from 2003 to 2005. For the same period, the report listed 43% and 44% non-compliance rates for the Prairies and Northern region. Transport Canada agreed in 2006 to fix flaws uncovered by the audit in its inspection process, poor management oversight, and accountability gaps. These “fixes” were to be addressed within a year or two. Although the department suggested it had completed all of its proposed actions in response to the 2006 audit, a 2011 audit released by the federal environment commissioner called this claim into question.

Railroaded petroleum derailment fire image july 6 2013 Nat GeoThis falls on the heels of a December 7 Railroaded news post indicating federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair criticized the Harper government for ignoring warnings from the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic about deteriorating railway tracks in the town (Edmonton Journal). Mulcair suggested that the July 6, 2013 derailment disaster in Lac-Megantic that killed 47 people and spilled 5.5 million litres of oil could have been prevented if the government had responded to the town’s warning. The town had even written to the Transport Minister and to the local Conservative MP in 2012 warning about the deteriorating rail infrastructure.

Is it any wonder that Canadians are becoming more and more concerned about the safety of shipping dangerous products by rail through communities across Canada and along our river valleys and lakes?

For more information on rail safety see this link, and for information on the risks associated with transporting hazardous goods (including oil) by rail, see this link.

~ by railroaded on December 14, 2013.

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