Increased rail traffic has a local society concerned for public and ecological safety

Hillary Johnson
10/01/2020

The North West Watch Society brought forward their concerns for public and environmental safety regarding the increase in rail traffic carrying hazardous materials through Terrace. The society has requested the city write a letter to the transport minister to complete a risk assessment under the railway safety act.

Still, the majority of council members agreed to receive the presentation for information purposes only. Society representative Anne Hill says there are several unique hazards specific to the Northwest BC rail line.

"The main point I want to make is there is no environmental assessment being required on the transport of dangerous goods travelling to ports in Prince Rupert and Kitimat. The only environmental assessment being done is for the propane terminals themselves. The transport of dangerous goods along the river through towns, through avalanche zones and floods zones, is not considered in this environmental assessment."

Hill says there have been several worrying accidents on rail lines in the northern BC corridor. She explains that if the proposed terminals by Vopak in Prince Rupert and Pacific Traverse Energy in Kitimat are built, train traffic will increase substantially.

"If those terminals are built, there is going to be an estimated increase per day of 180 propane tanker cars and 180 petroleum liquid tanker cars per day, so an increase of about 360 train cars going through Terrace."

Councillors agreed that rail safety is paramount, and residents' concerns are taken thoughtfully, and the information provided will benefit council. Other municipalities have expressed their concerns about rail safety.

The Village of Burns Lake recently wrote a letter to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada about a derailment of eight coal cars east of their town that wasn't reported to municipal staff.

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