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News release

Strong first steps taken on TSB recommendations in Lac-Mégantic investigation

Gatineau, Quebec, 18 June 2014 – Highlighting positive immediate action, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its assessment of Transport Canada's (TC) response to the three recommendations made on 23 January 2014

“There are risks to carrying more and more oil by rail and the Board's recommendations are aimed at bringing those risks down,” said Wendy Tadros, Chair of the TSB. “We are pleased with the strong first steps taken by TC and will be watching carefully for crucial follow-up action on Class 111 tank cars and route planning and analysis.”

Vulnerability of Class 111 tank cars to sustain damage (R14-01)

The investigation found that, even at lower speeds, the older unprotected Class 111 tank cars ruptured, releasing crude oil that fuelled the fire. For this reason, the Board's first recommendation called for better protection, to reduce the risk that these cars will be breached in an accident.

TC responded by immediately prohibiting the most unprotected Class 111 tanks cars and by requiring older Class 111 tank cars to be phased out or retrofitted within three years. “Canada is leading the way by aggressively phasing out older unprotected tanks cars,” said Tadros. “Now we will be watching for tougher tank car standards – here and south of the border,” added Tadros. The Board has assessed this response as Satisfactory in Part.

Today, the TSB also released three Engineering Laboratory reports (LP149/2013, LP165/2013, LP168/2013) on the analysis of the Class 111 tank cars involved in the Lac-Mégantic accident.

Route planning and analysis for trains carrying dangerous goods (R14-02)

The Board's second recommendation called for strategic route planning and safer train operations for trains carrying dangerous goods in Canada. In the short term, TC will require railways to put in place minimum key operating practices including speed restrictions, expanded inspections and risk assessments for routes over which more than 10 000 car loads of dangerous goods are carried annually. In the long term, TC will require railways carrying dangerous goods to formulate and submit for approval new rules to improve their operating practices for the safe transportation of dangerous goods. “While there has been positive action, we are urging TC to look carefully at the threshold for lower volume routes to ensure dangerous goods will always be moved safely,” said Tadros. The Board has assessed this response as Satisfactory Intent.

Requirements for emergency response assistance plans (R14-03)

In its third recommendation, the TSB called for emergency response assistance plans (ERAPs) along routes where large volumes of liquid hydrocarbons are being shipped. In response, TC issued a Protective Direction that ensures that there will be an approved ERAP in place for the shipment of higher-risk hydrocarbons and ethanol. “The Board is pleased with the immediate action taken on ERAPs. This is about making sure that, when something does go wrong, the right resources are in place,” said Tadros. The Board has assessed this response as Fully Satisfactory.

The investigation of the Lac-Mégantic train derailment remains a top priority for the TSB. A team of experts continues to be dedicated to the investigation, which is now in the report-writing phase.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376