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On the Rails: Increased Sharing of Dangerous Goods Information

The Harper government issued a protective direction aimed to maintain safe railway transportation in Canada. This direction states that all rail companies must share information about the transportation of dangerous goods with the municipalities they travel through in order to give local government the information they need to prepare for emergency situations.

Effective immediately, Transport Canada requires any Canadian Class 1 railway company to provide municipalities detailed dangerous goods information every 3 months. Any person who transports dangerous goods via rail who is not a Canadian Class 1 railway company, must do the same annually. While railways in Canada have always shared this information, the process is now formalized and mandatory.

Why now? Communities have been demanding more information about hazardous materials since the Lac-Megantic tragedy. Although the information doesn’t have to be provided in advance, industry experts believe the data will be helpful because it will let officials know what types of dangerous goods typically travel through their city. The information will give emergency planners the ability to prepare for situations involving the specific dangerous goods that pass through their communities.

The effect on companies that ship dangerous goods is yet unknown, however, the fact that our government and industry are taking steps to prevent more transporting related tragedies is a move in the right direction.

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