First responders get lesson on railway cars carrying dangerous goods

First responders in Windsor-Essex got a lesson in how dangerous goods are transported in the region, and what to do if an accident occurs.
Railway experts give lesson in dangerous goods transportation at Essex Terminal Railway on Wednesday. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

First responders were given a lesson Wednesday on what to do in the case of a railway accident involving dangerous goods.

The event took place at the Essex Terminal Railway (ETR), and is part of a national effort to connect rail carriers and shippers with local police, fire and EMS. 

Andy Ash is the director of dangerous goods for the Railway Association of Canada, which sponsors the training. He said his organization has being providing education like this for 30 years. 

Participants learned about the mechanics of railway tankers and locomotives so that, if ever there were a derailment like the one in 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Que., they will know how to respond.

"Windsor is very prepared," said Ash, referring to the region's ability to respond to an accident. "Any good municipality that has properly trained people is prepared to deal with these things."

Essex Terminal Railway transports dangerous goods, such as ethanol products and liquefied petroleum, throughout Windsor, LaSalle and Amherstburg on a daily basis, said Ivan Pratt, superintendent at ETR. 

He said it's much better to have information sessions like this, than to have to see each other "at a situation at three o'clock on a Sunday morning."

"We all have training in this and we come together, reassure each other, go over things, again just reassuring each other that we are ready if an incident ever happens."

Pratt said everyone is more aware since Lac-Mégantic and that safety regulations have been "amped-up" since then.

"Everybody is more aware of situations that could occur, and are preparing ourselves for," he said.