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Minister of Transport announces precautionary measures to address safety concerns resulting from extreme weather and wildfire risks

OTTAWA, ON, July 11, 2021 /CNW/ – Transport Canada is committed to protecting communities along rail lines by putting in place necessary safety measures to reduce risks to public safety and the integrity of railway tracks and infrastructure. An unprecedented wildfire has displaced hundreds of people in Lytton, British Columbia, the Lytton First Nation and the surrounding areas. Extreme weather and wildfire risk continues to pose an acute danger in British Columbia, as well as other parts of Canada.

Therefore, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, today announced a Ministerial Order to immediately enact precautionary safety measures to further protect against wildfires in the context of extreme weather conditions. The Ministerial Order, in effect as of midnight PDT, July 10, 2021, requires the following: Operations between Kamloops and Boston Bar or between Kamloops and North Bend on the Thompson and Ashcroft Subdivisions

  • From the date of the issuance of this Order until October 31, 2021, when operating when the fire danger level in the area of the Subdivisions is “extreme”, Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) must:

  • CN and CP must consult with Indigenous governments or other Indigenous governing bodies located along the Subdivisions to incorporate considerations of Indigenous knowledge related to the presence of fire hazards, fire risk and control of fires into the preparation of Fire Hazard Reduction Plans and the Fire Preparedness Plans required under the Prevention and Control of Fires on Line Works Regulations.

Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation throughout Canada

  • Where the air temperature is 30 to 32 degrees Celsius and the fire danger level for the area is “extreme”, Class 1 railways (Canada’s largest railways) must ensure train speeds are reduced to 25 mph where permitted track speed is between 26 mph and 35 mph and by 10 mph if track speed is 36 mph or greater.

  • Where the air temperature is 33 degrees Celsius or higher and the fire danger level for the area is “extreme”, Class 1 railways must ensure train speeds are reduced to 25 mph where permitted track speed between 26 mph and 50 mph and to 30 mph where the permitted track speed is 51 mph or greater.

  • From the date of issuance of this Order until October 31, 2021, Class 1 railways must ensure that no locomotive is operated through an area where the fire danger level is “extreme” unless it has been inspected in the previous 15 days to ensure the locomotive’s exhaust passages are clear of combustible material, including oil accumulation and carbonaceous deposits in excess of 1/8 inch (3 mm) in thickness.

  • Class 1 railways must develop and implement an Interim Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan within 14 days following the issuance of this Order that at a minimum addresses fire detection, monitoring and response measures.

  • Class 1 railways must communicate the Interim Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan to municipal and other orders of government, including Indigenous governments or other Indigenous governing bodies, and establish a method for receiving comments for consideration.

  • Class 1 railways must complete and implement a final Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan within 60 days following the issuance of this Order.

With extreme weather events occurring more severely and frequently in Canada due to climate change, it is important to have an adaptive regulatory system that responds to these new risks.

This Ministerial Order will put in place interim measures while the department works with railway companies to incorporate these fire risk reduction measures on a permanent basis into the existing regulatory framework for railway operations in Canada.
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“Unprecedented weather conditions in British Columbia continue to pose a serious threat to public safety and railway operations. The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting those affected by the devastating wildfires in British Columbia and will not hesitate to take any safety actions that are necessary to mitigate these risks to public safety and the integrity of railway tracks and infrastructure.” The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

Associated Links Ministerial Order (MO 21-06) Link: https://tc.canada.ca/en/rail-transportation/enforcement-action-measures-mitigate-threats-rail-safety/ministerial-orders-emergency-directives/transport-canada-order-pursuant-section-3201-railway-safety-act-rs-1985-c-32-4th-supp-mo-21-06 News Release: Minister of Transport announces Ministerial Order to protect residents and railway operations in the area of Lytton, British Columbia

SOURCE Transport Canada

Cision

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2021/11/c7408.html