In a press release yesterday, just weeks after the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Transport Canada announced a new emergency directive outlining new plans to increase railway safety.
The new directive, specifically targeted section 33 of the Railway Safety Act which allows the Minister of Transport to put emergency protocol into effect directly.
Effective as of yesterday, the new emergency directive requires all railway operators to:
- Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is operated with fewer than two qualified persons on a main track or sidings
- Ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is left unattended on a main track
- Ensure, within five days of the issuance of the directive, that all unattended controlling locomotives on a main track and sidings are protected from unauthorized entry into the cab
- Ensure the directional controls, commonly known as reversers, are removed from any unattended locomotives, preventing them from moving forward or backward, on a main track or sidings
- Ensure that their company’s special instructions on hand brakes are applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour on a main track or sidings
- Ensure that, in addition to complying with their company’s special instructions on hand brakes referred to in the item immediately above, the automatic brake is set in full service position and the independent brake is fully applied for any locomotive attached to one or more cars that are left unattended for one hour or less on a main track or sidings
According to Transport Canada, “the safety of Canadians is Transport Canada’s top priority.”
Working together with CN, CP and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), Transport Canada plans to provide continued safety of Canada’s rail system.
“Although the cause of the accident in Lac-Mégantic remains unknown at this time, Transport Canada is moving forward to build upon the safety advisories received last Friday from the Transportation Safety Board and further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation.”
Transport Canada inspectors will be in Lac-Mégantic over the next week trying to determine the issues which lead to the tragedy.
On July 6, a runaway 73-car freight train carrying crude oil derailed and crashed within the Quebec community of Lac-Mégantic. After the derailment, several of the freight cars exploded.
Approximately half of the downtown was destroyed by the derailment causing millions of dollars in damage.
The derailment and explosion have resulted in the death of over 47 people.
The company at the center of the tragedy is the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway company who was directing the freight cars which derailed.
Last week, Lac-Mégantic mayor Colette Roy-Laroche sent a legal request to the MMA company requesting that they pay $4 million to reimburse the city for the clean-up.
Roy-Laroche claims that the MMA did not pay crews that it had hired and that the city was forced to cover the costs.
“We won’t tolerate any delays in the works due to MMA being negligent or its failure to pay its suppliers,” said Roy-Laroche in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
The federal government has promised $60 million to assist with the reconstruction of Lac-Mégantic.