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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Canadian government proposes regulatory amendments to boost haz-mat, tank-car safety


Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt on Friday announced proposed regulatory amendments aimed at further improving the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail.

The proposed regulations would introduce new standards for certain tank cars, replacing existing standards referenced in Canada's "Transportation of Dangerous Goods" regulations.

For example, new DOT-111 tank cars will need to be built with thicker steel requirements and feature top fitting and head shield protection, said Raitt in a press release. The industry already is building new tank cars to the standard, but the proposed amendment would turn previously agreed-to tank car standard requirements into regulations, she said.

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) supports the effort to require that new tank cars be built to a higher standard.

"It has been the railway industry's view that these [DOT-111] cars need to be replaced and that regulators on both sides of the border should work together to introduce a mandatory phase out of legacy tank cars for the transport of flammable liquids,” said RAC President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bourque in a prepared statement. “We believe this is an important step toward a North American approach to phase out legacy tank cars and to introduce a fleet of safer cars that meet the higher standard.”

Transport Canada continues to work with tank-car industry stakeholders and U.S. government officials to determine what additional requirements would enhance the DOT-111 tank-car standard, such as by improving their design, retrofitting or repurposing the cars, or retiring older ones in the North American fleet, said Raitt.

The proposed amendments also would enhance the classification regime for transporting hazardous materials, such as crude oil, by requiring that the person who classifies a dangerous good before transport keep a classification record and a record of the sampling method used. In addition, a proposed consignor's certification would appear on the shipping document to certify that the person named on the document has prepared the consignment to the applicable regulations.

"The government of Canada is committed to working with everyone involved to look at every possible way to increase safety when dangerous goods are transported by rail," said Raitt.

Stakeholders will have a 30-day consultation period to comment on the proposed regulations before they are finalized and published, she said.