Moncton to review hazardous goods plan, fire chief says

Moncton's fire chief believes the risk of a derailment in the city is low, but he's putting together a team to review the city's hazardous goods plan.

Fire chiefs across Canada reviewing TSB report on fatal Lac-Mégantic train derailment

Moncton's fire chief says his colleagues across the country are busy reviewing the Transportation Safety Board's final report into the deadly 2013 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que.

The report, released earlier this week, calls for additional safety measures to prevent runaway trains and more thorough audits of safety management systems.

Moncton Fire Chief Eric Arsenault is putting together a team to review the city's hazardous goods plan. (CBC)
Eric Arsenault said he believes the risk of a derailment in Moncton is very low, but he's in the process of establishing a team to review the city's hazardous goods plan.

"I have to build a team of experts to sit down and really look at the details within that plan and ensure that it still meets the needs of our community today and the capacities of our responders," he said.

Arsenault hopes to have the review done by 2015.

In January, the TSB made urgent recommendations to revise the way materials such as crude oil are carried by rail, including tougher standards for DOT-111 rail cars — the tankers involved in the Lac-Mégantic derailment— that are widely used in the oil-by-rail industry.

Transport Canada now requires that emergency response plans be prepared for all rail transportation of crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and ethanol.

The Lac-Mégantic derailment and a derailment near Plaster Rock, N.B., in January, 2014, both involved tanker cars carrying crude oil to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John. Both derailments resulted in massive fires. In Lac-Mégantic, 47 residents were killed.

Crude oil cars don't enter city

Most of the trains going through Moncton are carrying containers to the port in Halifax, Arsenault has said.

Trains carrying crude or other petroleum products don't enter the city. They are rerouted to Saint John at the CN yard just west of Moncton.

Arsenault said he was encouraged to see most of the recommendations in the latest TSB report have already been put in place, or will be soon.

But there's one that stands out for him.

"The emphasis that Transport Canada as a federal department needs to take in ensuring that as a regulator they are maybe a little bit more proactive in following up on inspections and ensuring that rail companies are maintaining their lines at the highest level," Arsenault said.

Among the problems TSB identified with the train's owner — Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) — were gaps in training, employee monitoring and maintenance practices.

The report also found that Transport Canada did not audit MMA often and thoroughly enough to ensure safety procedures were being followed.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has said the federal government is taking the report seriously and working to implement all of the recommendations.