Certain Tank Cars Transporting Dangerous Goods to Be Phased Out By CN

DOT-111 tank cars will be phased out in four years’ time, CN announced. This is part of the Canadian National Railways’ efforts to improve the company’s safety management system and dangerous goods transportation.

CN President and CEO Clause Mongeau said, “We have developed a comprehensive work plan to bolster our overall safety performance and to enhance our strong record of delivering 99.998% of dangerous goods to destination without a release caused by an accident,” in a statement.

This plan was made after the tragedy that happened in Lac-Megantic in Quebec, last July 6. Out of 72 oil tankers on a Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train, 63 of them got derailed in town, causing a huge explosion and fire that claimed of around 47 people.

CN railway is looking to identify and minimize risks associated with the older DOT-111 railcars that are used to transfer highly flammable materials. CN is responsible for transporting goods that amount to $250 billion across a rail network that spans between Canada and Central America.

The Canadian National Railway is planning to gradually phase out small fleet of 183 legacy DOT-111 tank cars that were used to carry diesel fuel for its locomotives to yard terminals. They are also investing $7 million in 40 new tank cars to replace all the old DOT-111 cars, meeting the current regulatory standards when the year ends. The other 143 DOT-111 cars that were leased will also be replaced as soon as the lease matures in four years.

Mongeau said, “For CN, tank car design is one of the most important systemic issues arising from the Lac-Mégantic accident.”

“The question of tank car robustness is central, and that question is being addressed by the AAR (Association of American Railroads), to which CN belongs, in recent recommendations calling for the retrofitting or phase-out of the old DOT-111 cars used to transport flammable liquids and a reinforced standard for new tank cars built in the future,” he added.

CN’s plan also include preventing accidents through people, process, technology, and investments. This is part of strengthening emergency response capabilities by sharing relevant information with communities, as well as giving support, training, and mutual aid intervention protocols.

Mongeau says, “CN believes that the rail industry can enhance safety by working more closely with communities. CN has already done this by launching a comprehensive outreach program to meet municipalities and their emergency responders along its network in order to discuss the nature and volumes of dangerous commodities transported through the communities we serve.”

“This voluntary program is on top of the requirement to divulge such information annually to Canadian municipalities, as announced last fall by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.”

In Mongeau’s statement, he added, ““CN is urging the implementation of mutual aid intervention protocols, with the participation of other carriers and producers of dangerous commodities. This would help codify emergency response standards and expand response resources in order to be prepared to handle any future rail incidents involving dangerous goods.”

CN reports that steps have already been taken since the tragic incident in Lac-Megantic. These include a comprehensive review of train securement practices and implementation of a special program to acquire additional monitoring equipment. This is to detect defects as early as possible, as well as to mitigate the severity of such accidents.