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Numbers show rail safety: CP
According to Canadian Pacific Rail, 99.99 per cent of the hazardous products its carries on its trains, such as those that travel through Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows on its main line, arrive intact at their destination.
And despite growing volumes on the tracks, the number of accidents on the railway involving hazardous goods has dropped 38 per cent since 2000.
Following a presentation to Pitt Meadows council in October, it was Maple Ridge’s turn last week to learn about rail safety in the wake of last summer’s rail disaster in Lac Megantic, Que.
CP spokesman Mike LoVecchio said that for the past seven years, CP has been an industry leader and seen a 76-per-cent reduction in rail incidents over the past three decades.
“There are fewer accidents than there were 30 years ago and they ship more freight,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said after the meeting.
That number surprised him.
He recalled when he ran his Windsor Plywood store for 24 years in the Albion industrial area next to the tracks, and 14 years after that, there was only one derailment in the late 1990s or early 2000s, with 30 to 35 trains running daily.
“That’s the only incident or accident in Maple Ridge that I recall, ever,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s [rail safety] a concern,” he added.
“The statistics are there, but it’s pretty safe, in the big picture.”
Daykin said that the rail cars, such as oil tankers, are owned by a third party.
And according to federal law, the railways have to ship any good that’s requested of them.
Council also told staff to work with CP on preparing a two-phase emergency preparation plan involving an overview, followed by a tabletop exercise involving local police and firefighters.
Coun. Cheryl Ashlie, who requested the meeting, said changes to federal law are also allowing local fire departments to get easier access to information about dangerous goods.
In October, Canadian Pacific told Pitt Meadows council there were ample emergency measures in place to prevent a disaster such as the one in Lac Megantic, where oil tanker cars exploded into an inferno, destroying the town’s centre.
Rick Poznikoff, CP’s senior manager of community relations, said that tracks leading into and out of Pitt Meadows are visually checked weekly and every six weeks with an ultrasonic device.
Locomotives and train cars are inspected frequently and the transport of dangerous goods is highly controlled.
“We are the safest railway in North America,” Poznikoff said as he outlined the steps the railway takes to ensure trains roll safely through the city.
“We are highly regulated and well prepared for any form of emergency.”