Edmonton’s fire chief says knowing more about what trains are carrying through the city would help emergency crews prepare in the event of a disaster.
Documents obtained by CBC News last week showed Alberta had more runaway trains than any other province in the past year – something what worries Fire Chief Ken Block.
CP Rail is required to provide general statistics about the types of dangerous goods being carried through a community if the information is requested.
But Block is not content with the information made available.
“We don't know the quantities, we don't know the frequency – we know that it's big and it's lots,” he said Monday.
While overall railway transparency is improving, Block said knowing more specific information about exactly what trains passing are carrying would help the Hazardous Materials Response Team better prepare should an emergency occur.
“If we get a sense that there's a trend of increased activity it may be that we need a second team,” he added.
CP Rail officials say community safety continues to be the company’s highest priority.
Alberta leading in runaway trains
Since last year's Lac Megantic disaster in Quebec, six separate Alberta trains took off on their own with no workers on board.
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Two of the incidents recorded were in Edmonton. In one case, an unmanned five-car train travelled 350 metres west from the CP yards in East Edmonton, crossing through the busy 50th Street intersection on the way.
After crossing the public intersection, the train travelled right past the back doors of several buildings, including a restaurant owned by Sam Halabi.
Halabi said he was never told about the incident – but should have been.
“We should have known about it, all the businesses here should have known about it,” he said.
“We don't know what they're carrying – dangerous goods or not – and you can see how close to the building they are.”
It is unknown what the rail cars involved in that incident were carrying.
A CP Spokesperson said the railways investigated the incident and implemented appropriate corrective actions.