Train Derailment In Dogwood Last Friday

By July 10, 2014Hot Topic

From Wendy Bales. Just before the Lac-M’egantic anniversary, numerous train derailments leave residents living near tracks in Yale and across Canada worried about their safety.

Do  you live in the blast zone

 Lucky this time, but it serves as a wake-up call to residents that were already concerned. I have discussed my concerns about train issues with Dennis Adamson several times, (FVRD Director for area B) before this accident. It has been a hot topic at a few local government forums. Some are also concerned that the escalation in reported accidents will be used as a selling point to promote pipelines, that are also a  risk to safety and habitat.


My own concern in the last year has grown as some of our local mayors are in support of US coal being railed through the Fraser Valley on our already over capacitated rail lines, (remember that we didn’t have enough capacity for our Canadian grain). Residents have contacted me about their concerns as well about the ware and tear on tracks from heavy train loads.


I suspect that in part that support for US coal by Mission and Abbotsford Mayors  and some council members is fueled by wanting to do more barging of coal out of Mission. Why else would you want to further risk the health of the Sturgeon Reach and all the residents and water ways along the rail route?  This is by the way US coal that US resident don’t want in their own ports as they ramp down on dirty fuels?.  One difference in the US is that their Port Authority is elected and so I suspect that they may be more influenced by public opinion. Coal dust has been detrimental to industries based on habitat health at the mouth of the Fraser.



Remember the coal train spill in Burnaby early this year, those tracks were just inspected (that spill into silver Creek that empties into Burnaby lake has still not been adequately cleaned up) .


One point not made was that individual train cars are also getting  longer, which makes me wonder if they take the corners as well. I would compare empty cars and some that are stacked, with when I used to have a van and would drive without any weight in it. You have to drive a lot more cautiously around corners and in the wind or snow as they can roll easily.


In the Dogwood case the rail company was reportedly warned about 6 months previously in an email from a resident about the need for track maintenance at the crossing. They did come to look at it, but residents report that nothing was done to fix it. It seems to me that if you let companies self-regulate or anyone to regulate for that matter,  unless you make them liable for an effective price for damages that it will just keep happening more often. That said the cost of risking lives is priceless.


As with the Lac-M’egantic case companies could just claim bankruptcy and leave local governments on the hook for a large part of the bill and habitat that cannot be so easily replaced.


Good advice that was from Dogwood news clip, is that if you notice anything that doesn’t look right about the tracks send the company an email and keep a record.  Also if you can, get a neighbor to back you up. At least that way if there is something that does affect property and life you will have a record.


Also in the news:

See the picture, it really is worth a thousand words.

An increase of coal trains along the route “may put these residents over the new U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards,” Jaffe wrote in his study.

Some of the particles measured during the study were 30 times more slender than a human hair and could easily penetrate deep inside a person’s respiratory system, causing lung and heart disease.

U.S. solar industry employs more than coal, gas combined, according to the National Green Energy Council.

Coal Company Fined $27.5m for Poisoning Waterways Across Five States 6,000 Times in 6 Years

Corporate Deregulation To Blame for Toxic Spill in West Virginia





o    The Federation of B.C. Municipalities, which I have been involved with as a regional director has been pushing for better standards. This was a topic at a directors forums and at UBCM and FCM. Through a committee process FCM has been pushing for changes on behalf of local communities. We did at least get some concessions. Over the years though the Federal government has allowed for lower standards, like longer trains and a lot less manpower.o    Slowing trains down through towns and populated areas was one of the requirements. Speed was another one of many safety issues. They will also be easy access to contents of cars for emergency responders. They are now having to instate more standards, but it doesn’t come soon enough in my opinion as they have been allowed too many downgrades that include track maintenance over the years.o

o    Wendy Bales

Railway Safety Working Group meets to discuss federal action on rail safety

Dear members,On April 23, 2014, the members of the National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt met in Ottawa to discuss the recent progress made by the federal government on rail safety issues. We were pleased that Mayor Collette Roy-Laroche of Lac-Mégantic, QC was also able to attend the meeting and share her community’s perspective on improving Canada’s rail safety rules.This week’s meeting coincided with the deadline for Transport Canada to respond to the interim rail safety recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) in January. Many of the recommendations were ones that FCM has been calling for since the formation of our National Rail Safety Working Group.

Following the meeting, Minister Raitt announced the following new rail safety measures in response to the TBS recommendations:

  • 5,000 of the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars are being removed from dangerous goods service immediately;
  • All remaining DOT-111 tank cars used to transport crude oil and ethanol that do not meet the most recent tank car standard must be phased out or refitted within 3 years;
  • Emergency Response Assistance Plans are now required for all shipments of crude oil, ethanol, gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel;
  • Railways are now required to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and conduct robust risk assessments along all routes; and
  • A new emergency response task force, including municipalities and first responders, will make additional recommendations to improve emergency response capacity in our communities.

The new safety measures announced this week respond directly to FCM’s call for urgent and concrete action by the federal government and are a critical step forward in improving the safe transportation of dangerous goods by rail. We will continue to be vigilant in calling for additional reforms over the coming months.


Claude Dauphin

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