Canadian Pacific CEO says delays in adopting rail reforms are risky
Hunter Harrison made comments in newspaper article; said reform has been stonewalled for decades
TORONTO—The chief executive of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says “turmoil” and “bureaucracy” are hampering the adoption of precautions that are needed to avoid further accidents like the deadly Lac-Megantic derailment in Quebec.
Hunter Harrison, who has been CEO of Canadian Pacific since mid-2012 and before that was CEO of Canadian National Railways, made the comments in an interview published by The Globe and Mail newspaper.
Harrison said it’s up to regulators to require sturdier rail cars, tighter safety rules and stiffer penalties, including jail time, for companies and employees who knowingly mislabel hazardous goods or fail to obey existing regulations.
CP and other railways have to abide by federal guidelines for carrying hazardous materials such as chlorine and crude oil, despite their complaints of gaps in current regulations, Harrison said.
He told the Globe that reform has been stonewalled for decades by petroleum and chemical producers and other commodity shippers who own the vast majority of North America’s tankers.
His comments come as Canadian Pacific is under scrutiny for its role in the Lac-Megantic disaster, which killed 47 and devastated the Quebec town’s centre.
The derailment involved a train operated by Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, which was moving tanker cars with crude oil on their way to an Irving oil refinery in Saint John, N.B.
Canadian Pacific moved the cars along an earlier stage of its journey from the source in the American Midwest.