Canadian Manufacturing

Better funding needed for rail safety improvement: working group

Report says local first responders aren't equipped to deal with major flammable liquid fires on trains



OTTAWA—A rail safety report says it is not at all clear that Transport Canada has the resources to approve, inspect and maintain current emergency response plans, let alone enough funding for a recommended expansion of the program.

The report is one of three delivered to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt last month and quietly posted by the department late last week.

A working group that included the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and emergency response contractors says in the report that local first responders aren’t equipped to deal with major flammable liquid fires.

Inventories of equipment for fighting the kind of oil fire that engulfed Lac-Megantic, Que., last July appear to be non-existent, the study says.

More fundamentally, the report found that no data exists to properly quantify what dangerous goods are being transported in Canada, by what means and over what transportation corridors.

Raitt’s office says Transport Canada is reviewing the working group recommendations on an urgent basis, however no new funding for rail safety was provided in the 2014-15 federal budget tabled last week by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

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