Category Archives: Canadian regulation

LATEST DERAILMENT: Diesel fuel leak in heart of Toronto, no injuries

Repost from the Toronto Star

Freight train derailment a ‘wake-up call’ on rail safety, councillor says

Human error blamed for freight train derailment in heart of the city after a Canadian Pacific Railway train collided with another on Sunday morning.
By Ebyan Abdigir, Aug. 21, 2016
A CP Railway freight train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts., early Sunday after two trains collided, causing a diesel fuel spill. CP blames human error for the collision.
A CP Railway freight train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts., early Sunday after two trains collided, causing a diesel fuel spill. CP blames human error for the collision. (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE / TORONTO STAR)

Human error is being blamed for a freight train derailment in the heart of Toronto Sunday morning that had crews scrambling to contain a diesel fuel leak.

The derailment happened after a train struck the tail of another train at about 5:20 a.m. near Dupont and Bathurst Sts., Canadian Pacific Railway spokesperson Martin Cej told the Star.

No one was injured in the collision and subsequent derailment and the diesel fuel leak, which Toronto police said had not been a threat to public safety, was quickly contained.

Cej said that one car was carrying batteries and aerosols, which are classified as “dangerous goods” under Canadian regulation, but they did not leak, he confirmed.

City councillor Josh Matlow raised new concerns Sunday about freight trains running through densely populated neighbourhoods.

A CN train derailed near Bridgeman and Howland Aves., East of Bathurst and Dupont Sts.
A CN train derailed near Bridgeman and Howland Aves., East of Bathurst and Dupont Sts.  (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE) 

“While it was incredibly fortunate no one was hurt today, this derailment should act as a wake-up call for the federal government to move swiftly on rail safety,” he said.

This spring, Mayor John Tory, Matlow and 16 other councillors whose wards are nestled by rail lines, signed a letter sent to Marc Garneau, the federal Transport Minister, calling for better rail safety.

The 2016 federal budget allocated $143 million to be used over three years to improve rail safety.

Cej said “early indications” point to human error as the cause of Sunday’s collision and derailment and that equipment failure was not a factor.

Bartlett Ave., north of Dupont, was closed while police and rail officials investigated the incident.

A crowd gathers near where a CP Railway train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts. on Sunday morning.
A crowd gathers near where a CP Railway train derailed near Bathurst and Dupont Sts. on Sunday morning.   (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE)

Although there were no dangerous goods on board either train Sunday, roughly 9 per cent of goods transported by CP in Ontario are regulated dangerous goods, according to a disclosure to Transport Canada for 2015.

A 2014 investigation by Star reporter Jessica McDiarmid monitored CP’s rail line that crosses Barlett Ave. on its way to Dupont St. in the Junction before it goes northward, west of the Don Valley.

Between two 12-hour shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the Star found that more than 130 cars and tanks carried dangerous goods such as crude oil, methyl bromide and ethyl trichlorosilane, and more.

A little over three years ago, a train hauling 72 cars of crude oil, derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Que. It resulted in an inferno that killed 47 people, and spilled six million litres of crude.

Since the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster, rail companies are required to provide information to municipalities for emergency planning, however, under strict confidentiality agreements. Canada’s largest railroads already did this upon request.

In February 2015, the federal government introduced a bill that increased the amount of insurance railways must carry to cover costs in the event of a derailment.

A worker grabs hold of the railing of a derailed CN engine near Bridgeman and Howland Aves. on August 21.
A worker grabs hold of the railing of a derailed CN engine near Bridgeman and Howland Aves. on August 21.  (ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE) 

With files from Fakiha Baig and Star Staff

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Canada phasing out DOT-111 rail tank cars ahead of schedule

Repost from Hazmat Magazine

Canada phasing out potentially dangerous rail tank cars ahead of schedule

By J Nicholson, August 19, 2016

The Canadian federal government will retire the older DOT-111 rail tanker cars — the ones involved in the deadly Lac-Mégantic tragedy — several months earlier than planned. “Protective Direction 38” stipulates that the DOT-111 tanker cars will no longer be permitted to transport crude oil or other dangerous goods on Canadian railways as of November 1st 2016. The original phase out plan called for the tanker cars to be phased out by May of 2017.

An unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in July 2013. (CBC)
An unattended 74-car freight train carrying crude oil ran away and derailed, resulting in the fire and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in July 2013. (CBC)

The DOT 111 rail tanker cars do not have a layer of thermal protection. Experts speculate that the Lac-Mégantic rail derailment would not have been as disastrous if the runaway freight train did not have DOT 111 tanker cars. On July 6th 2013, a runaway freight train pulling 72 tanker cars of crude oil exploded in the downtown area of Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people.

The new standard tanker rail car is the TC-117. It has a thicker steel hull, thermal protection, a full head shield, protective valve covers and a bottom outlet valve for safety. Rail experts say the TC-117 is much more able to resist puncture than the DOT 111.

DOT 111 will still be able to be used by rail companies; however they are not permitted to be used for the transport of dangerous materials such as crude oil.

There are skeptics to the phase out rules on the old rail cars. Mike Benson , the Fire Chief for the northern Ontario community of Gogama, told the Timminspress.com that he is skeptical that the redesign of rail cars, on their own, will ensure safety in his community.

“It’s a good step but a very small step. But the problem isn’t so much the makeup of the cars as it is the maintenance and inspection of the track,” said the fire chief. “All the difference with the new cars is another quarter-inch of steel on either end of the car. These things contain 100,000 litres weighing a million pounds, so it’s not going to change anything if there’s a derailment.”

A more effective policy, said Benson, would be taking steps to prevent similar derailments from happening in the future. That would mean significantly increasing the amount of track maintenance and inspection and decreasing the speed limit for trains in rural areas.

“The companies don’t want to slow their trains down … but with four derailments in three years, I’d say there’s a bit of a problem there,” said Benson.

The Railway Association of Canada is in favour of the move made by the federal government to phase out the tanker cars. Michael Bourque, a spokesperson for the Association stated, “Removing this tank car model from service sooner is an effective step toward ensuring the safe transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. We welcomed harmonized Canada-U.S. tank car standards introduced last year, and we’re equally pleased with the announcement.”

The use of rail cars to transport oil has soared in Canada over the past few years. In 2015, there were 146,000 shipments of crude oil across Canada.

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Gogama fire chief asks for more than DOT-111 tanker phase out

Repost from CBC News, Sudbury
[Editor: Significant quotes: “This week, the federal [Canadian] government announced DOT-111 rail cars will be phased out sooner than expected.” …and “Marc Garneau, the federal transport minister, said by 2025 no flammable liquids will be permitted to be transported by rail car.”  – RS]

Gogama fire chief asks for more than DOT-111 tanker phase out

Tankers that carried crude oil in recent derailments will be phased out or scrapped by 2025
Martha Dillman & Casey Stranges, CBC News Jul 27, 2016 8:57 AM ET
By 2025, flammable goods will no longer be permitted to be transported across the Canada.
By 2025, flammable goods will no longer be permitted to be transported across the Canada. (Nati Harnik/Associated Press)

This week, the federal government announced DOT-111 rail cars will be phased out sooner than expected.

DOT-111 rail cars were involved in the deadly rail disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec three years ago.

A similar model of rail cars transported crude oil in derailments near the northern Ontario community of Gogama — including two last year that spilled more than 100,000 litres of crude oil.

Although he was critical of CN and their handling of local derailments, Gogama fire chief Mike Benson said he believes rail companies and the federal government want to make it safer to transport goods.

“The financial aspect is what’s holding everything back here,” Benson said, “but certainly, CN recognizes that it’s in their best interest not to have derailments. The federal government certainly understands that.”

In March, Benson said that CN was keeping his people from seeing the derailment site during its investigation, which bred mistrust in the community.

And considering that his community has seen two derailments in a short period, Benson said that phasing out the rail cars is a step in the right direction, but other aspects of rail transportation need to be considered.

“I think the infrastructure, the [rail] track system, the maintenance that they’re doing on the track system, and I think they really have to look at the speeds when [the trains are] going through municipalities,” Benson said.

Marc Garneau, the federal transport minister, said by 2025 no flammable liquids will be permitted to be transported by rail car.

Garneau said about 28,000 DOT-111 railcars are still in use, travelling between Canada and the United States. He said the cars may be upgraded, used to transport other goods or sold to be scrapped.

Trains coming from the U.S. will be monitored to ensure they comply with the new rules.

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