Railways report more accidents with dangerous goods

View article in its entirety at Winnipeg Free Press.

— Author:  Dylan Robertson

OTTAWA — The number of rail accidents involving dangerous goods more than doubled in Canada in 2018.

There were 25 accidents involving dangerous goods in 2018, involving one death, according to Transport Canada data published Monday.

There were 11 accidents recorded a year prior, and five in 2016.

These accidents involve dangerous goods — flammable or corrosive substances — that either exploded or leaked.

Seven of the reported incidents involved human error, up from three for each of the previous three years. Equipment problems made up for four incidents, a number that has been on the rise.

Bruce Campbell, an adjunct professor with York University, said the numbers are small but the increase in overall incidents is concerning.

“It’s a pretty big bump,” said Campbell, who has written extensively about railway regulation in the wake of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, in which the explosion of a runaway oil train killed 47 people.

In Manitoba, there were two accidents in 2018, compared with none for the previous four years.

Dangerous goods rail accidents on the rise

Accidents with trains spilling dangerous goods continues to rise across Canada, more than doubling between 2017 and 2018.

Of the top ten commodities tracked as dangerous goods, liquefied petroleum gases account for six accidents followed by three for sodium hydroxide solution and two each for gasoline and fuel oil.

Transport Canada and Statistic Canada do not track traffic volume for general or dangerous goods moved by rail. An increase in the number of accidents does not necessarily reflect an increase in the accident rate.

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