Hazmat transport safety after Lac-Mégantic

Railroaders, regulators and lawmakers continue to assess the crude-by-rail landscape — actually, the entire hazmat transport realm — in the aftermath of the July 6 Lac-Mégantic, Quebec tragedy. For those doing the assessing, a thoughtful, rational approach to ensuring safer hazmat transport is the right one, as noted in my August column. It'll mean listening to citizens who ask questions about what's traveling within the vicinity of their backyards. Having dialogues with lawmakers who'd like to implement changes in equipment or service design. And implementing what arguably are no-brainer modifications quickly. It's a long and thorough haul, ensuring hazmat transport safety is. Staying the course, thoughtfully, is key.

4 Replies

  • Two questions: 1. How can the CP be responsible for traffic that had been interchanged?

    2. Does Canada have Emergency Service orders to permit other carriers to serve the now

    embargoed industries served by the MM&A?

  • In reply to Clinchfield:

    Clinchfield — thanks for keeping the conversation going. RE: CP - I don't disagree. Our readers/viewers certainly don't think so, if an online poll we're taking this week is any indication.

    As for emergency service orders in Canada and other carriers serving the now-embargoes industries served by MMA — good question. Off hand, I don't know. Any readers out there with information to share?  

  • Petroleum crude oil is classified by the PHMSA as a flammable hazardous material and not an explosive one.  That suggests that the locomotive or one or more of the cars hit a propane storage tank or filling station pump in Lac-Megantic to have set off the deadly explosion.  Neverthless, certain changes in the rail transportation of crude oil are bound to be mandated.  For one thing, Ed Burkhardt's one-man crews will be disallowed.  And trainloads of crude oil will need to remain attached to the locomotives to maintain the air pressure breaks or alternatively, if detached, sufficient hand brakes will need to be set to avoid the cars' movement on an inclined right-of-way.

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