Federal environment commissioner Andrew Hayes speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Federal environment commissioner Andrew Hayes speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Transport Canada’s dangerous-goods registry has outdated, missing data: audit

Companies that transport dangerous goods are not required to register with Transport Canada

Transport Canada isn’t always following up when it finds safety violations in the movement of dangerous goods and still doesn’t have the full picture of the companies and locations it is supposed to be monitoring, Canada’s interim environment commissioner said Tuesday.

Andrew Hayes’s fall environment audits included an update on Transport Canada’s progress to improve safety on dangerous-goods transport, since a 2011 audit identified a number of shortcomings.

“Transport Canada has more work to do to address problems with inspections and emergency plans that were raised almost a decade ago,” he said.

That includes making sure it has fully investigated and approved the emergency-response plans companies that transport dangerous goods must file with the government. About one-fifth of the plans had only been given interim approval in 2018-19, the audit found. Hayes said that is better than 2011, when almost half were in interim status, but is still not good enough.

He noted the recommendation to fully review emergency-response plans was also made in a report on the 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Que., where a runaway train loaded with oil derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.

Hayes said the plans are critical to ensuring safety, noting two freight derailments in Saskatchewan last winter that leaked more than 3.1 million litres of crude oil and caused massive fires that burned for at least 24 hours near the hamlet of Guernsey.

“When I see the rail accidents that happened earlier this year in Guernsey, Sask., I say to myself it’s important these (emergency response plans) get done by the department and soon,” Hayes said.

Hayes wouldn’t pass judgment on how safe Canada’s transportation system is when it comes to moving dangerous goods around, because he said in many cases we don’t have enough information to make such an assessment.

The department has created a risk-assessment system to prioritize what sites should be inspected, but the database of sites is outdated and incomplete, with hundreds of sites in the database no longer active, and thousands of potential sites that may need inspections not included.

Companies that transport dangerous goods are not required to register with Transport Canada, said Hayes. That’s a gap the department has said it will fix.

He said there have been some improvements since 2011. The number of inspections has gone from 2,000 to more than 5,000 a year, the number of staff from 113 to 290, and the budget for the work from $13.9 million to $36.2 million.

But when the audit looked at a sample of 60 violations uncovered by inspections in 2018, it found almost one-third of the time the department never went back to make sure the companies had made the required fixes.

The volume of dangerous goods being shipped in Canada has gone up. By rail alone, in 2011, 31.8 million tonnes of dangerous goods were shipped. In 2019, that had risen to 54.2 million tonnes.

Hayes said the department did appear to be taking the audit seriously and has accepted the recommendations. Transport Canada, for example, says by next spring it will have updated training and policies for following up on safety violations and by the end of 2021 it will complete the investigations that are needed to finalize approval of emergency response plans that have been in the “interim” stage for more than three years.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Transportation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patricia Berston of Quesnel recently won $200,000 through Casino Royale II, a scratch and win game offered by the B.C. Lottery Corporation. (B.C. Lottery Corporation Photo)
Quesnel woman wins $200,000 playing scratch and win game

Patricia Breston won while playing Casino Royale II

Spectators won’t be able to enjoy Quesnel Kangaroos action like captain Alessio Tomassetti scoring a goal until at least September of 2021. (Sasha Sefter - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Kangaroos’ CIHL championship defence on hold

The CIHL has canceled its 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 restrictions

Quesnel council has committed to considering signing on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to developing and adopting an anti-racism strategy for the city and to conducting anti-racism sensitivity training and improving the knowledge of staff and council regarding local Indigenous culture and history. (City of Quesnel Photo)
Quesnel council commits to developing, adopting anti-racism strategy

Council will also consider signing onto the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Quesnel Search and Rescue has found a missing snowmobiler on Yanks Peak, near Wells. They are being assisted by the Wells RCMP, Wells Snowmobile Club and Central Cariboo and Prince George search and rescue teams. (Quesnel Search and Rescue)
Search and rescue crews locate missing sledder near Wells

Mike Harbek spent the night on Yanks Peak and was located by helicopter Monday afternoon

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: snowmobiler rescued, 1 still missing near Wells

As Quesnel search and rescue teams investigate Yanks Peak, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Most Read