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Northern Health inspects rail safety in northern B.C.

railway report.png
The images on the front page of a new report on rail safety from Northern Health.

An increase in train traffic combined with high-profile accidents in Lac Megantic and Edmonton has prompted Northern Health to review rail safety in northern B.C. They've posted a draft report on train derailments in northern B.C. and are using it to assess the potential health impacts of the economic boom. 

Dr. David Bowering is the chief medical health officer for Northern Health. He says that as rail traffic increases, issues around emergency preparedness around the transportation of hazardous materials are going to become more important.

Listen to the full interview with Dr. David Bowering on rail safety:
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As a starting point, the report used data from the Transportation Safety Board to compile a preliminary list of all train incidents over the last decade. Last year saw 43 accidents, and so far, there have been 28 in 20-13.

Dr. Bowering says many of these incidents go unreported in the media. "Everyone who I know who has looked at it has kind of gasped and thought, 'oh my goodness. I had no idea that incidents and accidents were so commonplace."

He also says preparing for a disaster is challenging for rural communities. 

"It's a very big and almost overwhelming scenario at the moment. But I think we just have to examine what we have in front of us, and just start to work with it."

You can find the report at chip.northernhealth.ca.

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