Greens and NDP comment on Lac Megantic report

I’m sure the Conservatives and Liberals will express opinions soon, but the Green Party and the NDP are first–at least there is some criticism worth reading. And I dare say, Ms. May is two steps ahead of the NDP. Read on:

ELIZABETH MAY REACTS TO TRANSPORT CANADA’S FINAL REPORT ON LAC-MEGANTIC

19 August 2014 – 3:43pm

“I call for a public inquiry to satisfy Canadians that everything is being done to protect them…”

Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.

(OTTAWA) – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada issued the following statement regarding the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada release of its final report on the devastating train derailment in Lac-Megantic in 2013.  The tragic events lead to the loss of 47 lives and destroyed a significant portion of the downtown.  Over six million litres of crude oil were discharged into the area.

“I want to first begin by expressing my deepest sympathy to those who lost their loved ones to this terrible and senseless tragedy,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. “My heart goes out to you as you look for a way to cope with this terrible loss.  While nothing can bring them back, I hope we can learn from this to ensure that it never happens again.”

Since 2011, the Green Party has called for a Royal Commission into Railway Safety.

“With the release of the TSB final report, action must be immediately taken to minimize the risk posed to Canadians as transportation by rail of dangerous goods through our cities and towns continues to grow rapidly,” added Deputy Green party Leader Bruce Hyer.  “The fact that very little has been done to improve rail safety following this tragedy, speaks to this Conservative Government’s belief that government should not play a significant role in safety – if it affects the bottom line of private sector companies.”

“I call for a public inquiry to satisfy Canadians that everything is being done to protect them,” concluded Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May. “The recommendations brought forward today by the TSB are a first step. However, despite improvements brought in by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in removing some of the DOT 111 rail cars, much more needs to be done.  We need to bring in a system that can stop or slow a train before certain accidents occur, such as positive train control technology, which is currently being implemented in the U.S.

“A full public inquiry is needed to demonstrate the weak safety culture that exists in Canada today at the expense of Canadians.”

(See attached backgrounder on findings from the Report)

BACKGROUNDER:
Findings as to Causes and Contributing Factors:

MMA-002 was parked unattended on the main line, on a descending grade, with the securement of the train reliant on a locomotive that was not in proper operating condition.

· The 7 hand brakes that were applied to secure the train were insufficient to hold the train without the additional braking force provided by the locomotive’s independent brakes.

· No proper hand brake effectiveness test was conducted to confirm that there was sufficient retarding force to prevent movement, and no additional physical safety defences were in place to prevent the uncontrolled movement of the train.

· Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway did not provide effective training or oversight to ensure that crews understood and complied with rules governing train securement.

· Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s weak safety culture contributed to the continuation of unsafe conditions and unsafe practices, and compromised Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s ability to effectively manage safety.

· Despite being aware of significant operational changes at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Transport Canada did not provide adequate regulatory oversight to ensure the associated risks were addressed.

· Transport Canada Quebec Region did not follow up to ensure that recurring safety deficiencies at Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway were effectively analyzed and corrected, and consequently, unsafe practices persisted.

· The limited number and scope of safety management system audits that were conducted by Transport Canada Quebec Region, and the absence of a follow-up procedure to ensure Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s corrective action plans had been implemented, contributed to the systemic weaknesses in Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s safety management system remaining unaddressed.

Findings as to Risk:
· If there are no rules and regulations for single-person train operations, nor a requirement for Transport Canada to approve and monitor railways’ plans, then single-person trains may operate without all of the necessary defences in place.

· If systematic testing is not conducted on representative samples of petroleum crude oil at an appropriate frequency, there is an increased risk that these dangerous goods will be improperly classified.

· If not properly classified and documented, dangerous goods may be moved and handled incorrectly, increasing the risk of injury to people, and of damage to property and the environment.

· Without monitoring and effective enforcement of compliance with applicable classification provisions of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations, there is a risk that improperly classified dangerous goods will enter the transportation system.

· If Class 111 tank cars that do not meet enhanced protection standards transport flammable liquids, there is an ongoing risk of product loss and significant damage to persons, property, and the environment when these cars are involved in accidents.

Other Findings:
· It could not be concluded whether single-person train operations contributed to the incorrect securement of the train or to the decision to leave the locomotive running at Nantes, Quebec, despite its abnormal condition.

· The petroleum crude oil being transported by the train was improperly classified; it was assigned packing group III (lowest hazard), despite meeting the criteria for packing group II.

 

NDP RELEASE

2014 08 19

Conservatives need to bolster railway safety

The conclusions drawn in a Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report into the July 6, 2013 Lac-Mégantic derailment, which caused 47 deaths, was decisive: the government shares part of the blame and must restore measures to monitor railway companies as quickly as possible.

“Conservatives left companies to monitor themselves – an approach that ended in tragedy,” said Transport critic Hoang Mai (Brossard – La Prairie). “It’s time for the government to implement more rigorous oversight to prevent accidents like Lac-Mégantic from happening again.”

The report – published today – clearly states that the self-regulation of railway companies has failed and that better surveillance of railway companies by the federal government is essential.

For 20 years, the TSB has recommended phasing out the DOT-111 tank cars responsible for the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, claiming they were unsafe for petroleum transportation. Now they are calling for increased oversight from Transport Canada and better physical safety measures on trains.

“We need to do all we can to immediately ensure the safety of Canadians,” added Mai. “We urge the Conservative government to implement the recommendations set out in the TSB’s report without delay.”

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