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Better Response to Dangerous Goods Incidents Demanded by Community

As reported in the Terrace Standard, leaders in the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako in the interior of British Columbia have called for Canada’s railway operators to improve their response to incidents involving dangerous goods being carried by rail cars.

The Directors of Regional District of Bulkley Nechako are considering a resolution that calls for the provincial government to take the lead in talks with CN Rail to beef up response capabilities.

Canada’s Transportation Minister, Marc Garneau, has told his department to investigate railway incidents in Canada.  As reported in the Globe and Mail, derailments, collisions and other railway incidents soared in the first four months of 2018.

“The volunteer fire departments in the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako do not have the equipment, manpower, or expertise to respond to a notable dangerous goods event in a populated area,” notes background material prepared by regional district staffers for the directors.

“Increased training along will not increase local response capability to any notable degree. Also, many populated areas … are not serviced by a fire department.”

The background material adds that the regional district “and member municipalities are expected to response to a dangerous good incident, with CN Rail being prepared to respond to a dangerous goods event within 12 to 24 hours of being notified. Most of their response resources are located in Alberta.”

The resolution proposal builds on an earlier one which called for fire chiefs and local officials to have full information on the nature of dangerous goods being transported their their areas of jurisdiction.

But regional district staffers then noted that many areas of the province have a limited capacity to deal with a dangerous goods emergency.

“In staff’s opinion, CN Rail needs to play a lead role in developing rail emergency response strategy that is appropriate for northern British Columbia and other areas of the province where local response capacit, and CN Rail response capacity, is not adequate,” indicates the background material.

The new proposed resolution comes at a time of increased rail traffic on the part of CN Rail as the shipment of goods and material to and from port facilities at Prince Rupert increases.

Regional district directors June 7 approved of the new resolution during a committee of the whole session last week and it will be presented during the regional district’s regular meeting tomorrow.

Resolutions forwarded to Union of B.C. Municipalities conventions, if adopted, are then used as topics of discussion with senior governments.

Train Derailment (Photo Credit: (Transportation Safety Board)

 

Class Action suit filed against CN Rail for derailment

As reported in the Sudbury Star, a Timmins law firm has sent a letter out to Gogama area residents and cottagers advising that a class-action lawsuit has been filed against CN Rail in connection with the derailment of an oil tanker train and subsequent oil spill that occurred on March 7, 2015.

The letter, signed by James Wallbridge of Wallbridge, Wallbridge Trial Lawyers of Timmins, was to advise residents to sign retainer agreements or to indicate whether or not they wish the law firm to proceed on their behalf.

The derailment and oil spill occurred in the area of the Makami River bridge, on the CN mainline near the village of Gogama, a town in Northeastern Ontario located between Timmins and Sudbury.  An eastbound CN Rail train hauling 94 tank cars had a derailment after riding over a broken rail. In all, 39 tank cars left the track.  Some of the cars fell into the river next to be bridge, exploded and burst into flame. Several of the cars were breached releasing many hundreds of thousands of litres of synthetic crude oil into the river and the surrounding environment.

Gogama train derailment

Wallbridge’s letter said the claim against CN Rail was filed back in July and that there are indications that the clean-up of the oil spill in the area is not properly done yet.

“We are advised by Fred Stanley of Walters Forensic Engineering that the cleanup continues notwithstanding CN and the Ministry of the Environment’s view the oil spill cleanup is complete,” said the letter.

Wallbridge went on to suggest that more environmental testing would be needed early next year.

“We are of the view that next spring may be an appropriate time to review the work that has been done and undertake independent testing. We have spoken to the Ministry of Environment’s legal counsel about testing and have indicated that we anticipate their cooperation in reviewing the overall cleanup.”

Wallbridge also advised that his firm has indicated that the timetable for the class action should be “held in abeyance” pending a review of the cleanup in May and June of 2018.

He said his firm elected to proceed by class action to preserve the limitation period of two years from the date of the occurrence. The class action serves to suspend the limitation period during the certification process, the letter said.

The Gogama-Makami River derailment was the second CN oil train derailment in that area in the winter of 2015. Both occurred along the section of the CN mainline known as the Ruel Subdivision. Another train hauling tank cars had derailed three weeks previous, on Feb. 14, 2015, in a remote bush and wetlands area, about 35 kilometres north of Gogama.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board filed a report in August saying that a broken section of rail was the cause of the derailment at the Makami River bridge.