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TSB Calls for Strategies to Reduce Dangerous Goods Derailments

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On February 16, 2017, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued a recommendation (R17-01) calling for Transport Canada (TC) to develop strategies to reduce the severity of derailments involving dangerous goods.

The recommendation was issued as part of its investigation (R15H0013) into the February 2015 derailment and fire involving a Canadian National Railway (CN) crude oil unit freight train near Gogama, Ontario.

On February 14, 2015, a CN unit train transporting 100 tank cars loaded with petroleum products derailed. It was travelling at 38 mph, below the 40 mph speed limit in place at the time. Twenty-nine tank cars of petroleum crude oil derailed and 19 of these breached, releasing 1.7 million litres of product. The crude oil ignited, resulting in fires that burned for 5 days. There were no injuries.

"This accident occurred at a speed below the maximum speed permitted by the Transport Canada approved Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes," said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB. "The TSB is concerned that the current speed limits may not be low enough for some trains—particularly unit trains carrying flammable liquids. We are also calling for Transport Canada to look at all of the factors, including speed, which contribute to the severity of derailments, to develop mitigating
strategies and to amend the rules accordingly."

There have been several high profile derailments and/or rail accidents that have resulted in water contamination. Any actions to mitigate the risk is a positive one.


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