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2014 TSB Recommendations & TC Responses

Ms. Wendy A. Tadros
Chairperson
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Gatineau QC K1A 1K8

Dear Ms. Tadros:

SUBJECT: Rail Safety Recommendations Issued on January 23, 2014

I am writing in response to your letter of January 23, 2014, that contained three initial Transportation Safety Board (TSB) Rail Safety Recommendations (R14-01 to R14-03). These recommendations were based on the TSB’s ongoing investigation into the cause of the fatal July 6, 2013, derailment and fire involving a freight train carrying petroleum crude oil operated by Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec (Railway Investigation R13D0054).

Enclosed is the Departmental response to the recommendations, as required under subsection 24(6) of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act. These actions will complement our previous and ongoing efforts to further strengthen railway safety.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Board for its thorough investigation into this tragedy, and for the provision of early advice.

Transport Canada remains committed to working with the TSB, all levels of government, the rail industry, officials in the United States, and other key stakeholders to examine, identify, and implement further improvements to railway safety and the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. To this end, additional steps will continue to be taken to bolster rail safety as further information emerges.

I would also like to highlight that our actions in response to the initial Board recommendations are part of an ongoing process to address rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods by rail, and we look forward to your additional recommendations.

Sincerely,
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Transport

Enclosure

TRANSPORT CANADA RESPONSE TO THE TSB INITIAL RAILWAY SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS RESULTING FROM THE ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO THE RAIL ACCIDENT IN LAC-MÉGANTIC, QUEBEC ON JULY 6, 2013
(R14-01 TO R14-03)

Background:

Following the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, Transport Canada’s work has been driven by three key objectives. First, and most importantly, Prevention – keep the trains on the track. Second, Effective Response – enhance the safety of tank cars that carry crude oil, which will reduce the impacts of a derailment; enhance emergency response requirements for shippers and support firefighters’ and other first responders’ need for information, communications and coordination. Finally, Transport Canada has launched a review of the Liability and Compensation regime for federally regulated railways.

The Department has been active on multiple fronts, and immediately began implementing a series of immediate and medium-term targeted actions. Quickly after the accident, Transport Canada issued an Emergency Directive requiring all trains carrying dangerous goods to have a minimum of two crew and strengthened other rail operating requirements; subsequently published multiple new regulations for formal consultation; issued Protective Directions requiring up-to-date testing of crude oil for classification purposes and requiring railways to share information on dangerous goods with municipalities; and enhanced oversight. In particular, in November 2013, the Minister of Transport established three industry-led, multi-stakeholder working groups under the existing Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council in order to study key subject areas that could complement the anticipated Transportation Safety Board (TSB) initial recommendations.

Transport Canada officials have also been working closely with rail safety and dangerous goods regulatory counterparts in the United States (U.S.) to develop effective strategies to reduce the risks that the TSB has identified. Given the highly integrated nature of our respective rail networks, and the similarities between the recent TSB and National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, Canada will continue to work with the U.S. to coordinate and harmonize regulatory actions wherever possible. Nevertheless, recognizing the scale of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and its impact on Canadians in general, as well as the serious concerns of the public and many municipalities with DOT-111 tank cars, Canada will take unilateral steps where necessary.

After a careful review of the Board’s initial recommendations, and informed by extensive technical discussion with U.S. officials, key stakeholders, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and subject matter experts, Transport Canada has developed a coordinated plan that is aggressive, yet practical, and which will complement and build upon the Department’s previous efforts to further strengthen railway safety. In implementing these actions, the Department’s objective remains to address the areas of highest risk to the public and to reinforce the Government of Canada’s commitment to the safety of all Canadians.

R14-01

“The Department of Transport and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration require that all Class 111 tank cars used to transport flammable liquids meet enhanced protection standards that significantly reduce the risk of product loss when these cars are involved in accidents.”

On addressing DOT-111 tank car vulnerabilities (R14-01) Transport Canada will immediately and unilaterally prohibit the use of the highest risk group of older DOT-111 tanks cars. A Protective Direction under subsection 32(1) of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, will be issued on April 23, 2014 and will prohibit the use of those tank cars that have no continuous reinforcement of their bottom shell for carrying any Class 3 flammable liquid, including crude oil and ethanol. Industry will have thirty days from this date to fully comply.

Transport Canada will require that all pre-CPC 1232/TP 14877 tank cars used for the transportation of crude oil and ethanol be phased out of service or refitted within three years.

In the interim, the train routing restrictions outlined below are designed to reduce these risks. As North America’s integrated market necessitates close cooperation, it is important that in the longer term, Canada harmonizes with the U.S. to the greatest extent possible. However, in this area, Canada will move more aggressively to address the safety concerns of Canadians. The Departmental objective will be to meet or exceed any new U.S. standards, so officials will continue to work closely to harmonize and accelerate the technical work required to develop future, more stringent tank car construction and re-fit standards to further enhance the safety of Canadians.

In addition, to ensure that the safety standard for these tank cars continues to be enhanced, to address the immediate safety issues, and as recommended by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council Working Group on Means of Containment, the Department will proceed expeditiously with Canada Gazette, Part II publication of 13 updated means of containment standards, including the 2011 standard for DOT-111 tank cars. Canada introduced this revised DOT-111 tank car standard for consultation on January 11, 2014, proposing the requirement of end-of-tank protection, thicker and more impact-resistant steel tanks, and protected top fittings, to improve accident performance.

R14-02

“The Department of Transport set stringent criteria for the operation of trains carrying dangerous goods, and require railway companies to conduct route planning and analysis as well as perform periodic risk assessments to ensure that risk control measures work.”

On addressing route planning and analysis for trains carrying dangerous goods (R14-02), Transport Canada will issue an Emergency Directive under section 33 of the Railway Safety Act that will require railways carrying dangerous goods to implement minimum key operating practices to address the Board’s recommendation and manage the immediate safety issue, including speed restrictions for trains carrying dangerous goods, expansion of inspection requirements on restricted rail routes, and the completion of risk assessments for rail transportation routes. These requirements are built upon voluntary approaches in the U.S., but also take into account differences in Canadian operations and areas where Canadian requirements are already more stringent.

The Emergency Directive would be in force for six months and may need to be renewed to reflect further consultation with stakeholders, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, unions and consideration of any additional U.S. requirements that may be established. Any further safety advisories or recommendations in this area from the TSB will also need to be taken into account.

At the same time, Transport Canada will also issue a Ministerial Order under section 19 of the Railway Safety Act requiring railways carrying dangerous goods to formulate and submit for approval new rules based on these operating practices, to further improve the safe transportation of dangerous goods by rail in the long term.

R14-03

“At a minimum, the Department of Transport require emergency response assistance plans for the transportation of large volumes of liquid hydrocarbons.”

On addressing requirements for Emergency Response Assistance Plans (R14-03), Transport Canada will immediately issue a Protective Direction under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, effective April 23, 2014, to require shippers to develop Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs) for specific higher-risk hydrocarbons (petroleum products - crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel) and ethanol for any train with one or more loaded tank cars of these products.

The Department will also announce the establishment of an Emergency Response Planning Task Force with members from key partners and stakeholders. This group will provide a dedicated forum with support from a team of experts to respond to recommendations of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council Working Group on Emergency Response Assistance Plan requirements. The Task Force will focus on ERAP activation processes, support the development of co-operative industry approaches to ERAP development and the development of information sharing protocols, and promote the development of unified incident command structures. The Task Force will also review and provide advice on the possible expansion of Emergency Response Assistance Plan requirements to other Class 3 flammable liquids.