Friday, April 24, 2015

Canada Issues New Hazmat Train Emergency Directive

Yesterday the Canadian Minister of Transport issued a new emergency directive on hazardous material transport by rail. In many ways it reflects and extends the recent DOT emergency order on flammable liquid transport.

This directive also requires the railroads to restrict hazmat trains to a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour in major urban areas. There are two significant differences between the Canadian Directive and the American EO:

The Canadian directive covers any train that contains a total of 20 hazardous material containing cars (or just one toxic inhalation hazard rail car); not the 20 car block of flammable liquid cars described in the American order.

The Canadian directive applies to any of the 33 Census Metropolitan Area (CMAs) in Canada. A table of Canadian CMAs show the minimum population size 123,300 for the listed CMAs; the HTUA’s in the DOT order are much larger and populations in the 100,000 range are essentially ignored.

The Directive also includes requirements for track inspections as well as route security and safety assessments. Since Canadian rules require termination dates on emergency directives this directive expires on August 17th.

A press release accompanying the publication of the Directive notes that the two largest Canadian railroads, CN and CP, “have already restricted their train speeds to a maximum of 35 mph in highly urbanized areas”.

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