Ottawa: Under the authority of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Transport Canada is issuing a Protective Direction that requires the immediate phase-out of the least crash-resistant tank cars. Tank cars being removed from service are those that are not equipped with continuous bottom reinforcement, which pose a much higher risk of failure in a derailment.
The roughly 5,000 tank cars in North America that must be immediately removed from dangerous goods service can be repurposed to transport non-dangerous goods in Canada. The unilateral move is a response to recommendations that followed an investigation into a fiery rail-car derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last July that killed 47 people. The faster phase-out of older cars in Canada raises the possibility that these cars will be diverted for use exclusively in the United States if Washington does not move with similar speed. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt suggested earlier this year that Canada would act in concert with the United States to improve rail safety, but appeared now to have decided that a rapid phase-out cannot wait. While Raitt has stressed the integration of the North American market, on April 4 she had said Ottawa could move faster than Washington because Ottawa is not tied down to a prescribed method of rule-making.