February 25th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 8
Cause of Frank derailment will take a year to determine: CP spokesperson
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black photo
Train derailment in Frank, Alberta
Pass Herald Reporter
According to Transport Canada, 144 carloads of crude oil were shipped by rail in this country in 2009 but that figure increased to 127,925 in 2013.
Last week, 12 of those cars derailed in Frank, two of them overturned. No leaks were reported and no injuries occurred. On Sunday, crews realigned the remaining train cars and pumped the crude out of the overturned tanks. The rail line reopened early that morning.
CP spokesperson Salem Woodrow confirmed the crude was being hauled in the newer CPC-1232 tank cars, which are reportedly tougher than the previous DOT-111s.
The causes of both this derailment and a Nov. 9 derailment east of Lundbreck where 18 cars jumped the tracks spilling their loads of coal are unknown.
Woodrow said it could take over a year for CP and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) to complete their investigations.
On Feb. 20, the Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt introduced rail safety laws that will make railways and crude oil shippers responsible for the cost of accidents.
If enacted, the Safe and Accountable Rail Act would increase minimum insurance requirements for railway crude oil shippers using federally regulated railways from $25 million for carriers of minimally dangerous goods to $1 billion for substantial quantities of them.
According to a government release, companies that ship crude oil would have to pay a fee per tonne shipped into a compensation fund to cover costs above what their insurance covers if one of their trains is in an accident involving crude oil.
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The amendments would also give more power to the government and would require “railway companies to share information with municipalities,” which is welcome news to some experts who claim train companies remain tight-lipped about dangerous rail shipments.
In a paper published in April 2014, Jennifer Winter, a researcher at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, claimed that even basic data on the number of annual train trips and accident records are “worryingly inaccessible, sometimes conflicting, and in certain cases not available at all.”
“If Canadians are, as it appears, destined to see increasing volumes of goods, specifically dangerous goods, transported by rail, it is that much more important that the federal government significantly improve the reporting of rail-safety data,” said Winter. “It is not only vital that our railroads are safe; it is just as vital for the public to have information showing exactly how safe they are.”
Winter began looking into rail safety in Canada after the 2013 derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic in Quebec that killed 47 people.
Kenneth Green, senior director for the Centre for Natural Resources at the Fraser Institute said there will always be some inherent danger in transporting dangerous goods by rail because of their proximity to populated areas.
“We built rail systems intentionally to go right through the centre of town and right near waterways where people wouldn’t otherwise build because of the worries about flooding,” said Green. “We’ve put the trains specifically in places where people are going to be exposed to the maximum level of risk from them.”
According to a report from the TSB, there were 1,011 rail accidents in 2012. Of those, 69 per cent involved freight trains. The largest reported rail accidents were on non-main tracks and 118 accidents involved dangerous goods. There were 82 fatalities.
February 25th ~ Vol. 85 No. 8
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