Crude oil rail transport could get new hazard standards

The federal transport minister is considering a number of changes to how crude oil is transported across Canada by rail.

Transport Canada looks at how crude oil is classified in wake of Lac-Mégantic tragedy

The derailment and explosion of tanker cars carrying crude oil in Lac-Mégantic, Que., killed 47 people last summer. (Canadian Press)

The federal transport minister is considering a number of changes to how crude oil is transported across Canada by rail.

The move would come after last summer's tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que., where 47 people died after a runaway train carrying tankers of crude oil derailed and set off massive fireball explosion in the centre of town.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt set up three working groups in November that are looking at, among other things, how crude oil is classified.

Right now, crude oil is listed as a flammable substance, but not a highly explosive one.

Another working group is examining whether companies should be required to have emergency response assistance plans for the shipment of crude oil.

That exists now for hazardous goods, and includes having specialized response teams along the route in case there is an accident.

It's also a sign Transport Canada understands there is a need to treat crude oil differently.

The working groups will report back with recommendations in January. The department will then come up with proposed regulations for consultation in February.

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