New rail safety rules get blistering review

A Halifax city councillor has harsh criticism of Ottawa's latest plans to make it safer to carry dangerous goods by rail.

Halifax Coun. Reg Rankin calls regulations 'useless' in an emergency

Wednesday's order is effective immediately, and will require that Canadian Class 1 railway companies that transport dangerous goods provide municipalities with detailed dangerous goods information every three months. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A Halifax city councillor has harsh criticism of Ottawa's latest plans to make it safer to carry dangerous goods by rail.

Months after the deadly train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., the federal government is forcing rail companies to tell municipalities when they transport dangerous goods through their communities every three months,

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said it's information emergency crews will need if there's a derailment.

"What it allows is in terms of emergency planning, the first responders know what they're going to be dealing with, that they can create their plans,” she said.

But the information won't flow until well after the dangerous substances in question have already rolled through town.

"It's useless for an emergency if that's the intent,” said Reg Rankin, who sits on Halifax’s Transportation Committee.

He said knowing what came through a municipality isn't as vital as knowing what's about to come through a city or town.

"Well give it to us in advance of the arrival of the trains so that we know what we're dealing with if there's an incident,” he said.

Rankin, who represents Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park West, said he can't understand why rail companies can't provide that information.

“You're not in the classroom, not in a post mortem. You're asking for information so your first responders and emergency know what they are dealing with. What type of dangerous good is it?"

Rankin says emergency crews heading to a derailment need to know exactly what they'll face when they get there.

Wednesday's order from Ottawa is effective immediately.

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