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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Toxic chemicals, crude oil, radioactive material ride the rails through Toronto

An interesting piece from the Toronto Star highlighting the various dangerous goods that travel on Canadian Pacific's North Toronto Sub. The basic argument of the story is that dangerous goods should not travel through densely populated areas and that information regarding rail cargo should be made more accessible.

A few thoughts:

  • CP isn't the only railway carrying such chemicals. CN's main line cuts through Vaughan and Richmond Hill.
  • It probably would be safer to move these loads on routes through rural areas. Both CN and CP had transcontinental routes which bypassed the GTA altogether. CN's route cut across Northern Ontario via Cochrane to Quebec, while CP's went via North Bay and the Ottawa Valley. Both were cut, meaning that all trains have to go via Toronto. Yet another stupid Canadian railway decision.
  • While I would like to see railway safety regulations bolstered, they aren't the only element in the chemical equation. Anyone who has travelled by train west of Toronto will pass through kilometres of oil refineries, factories and processing plants - all operating in residential areas.
  • As the investigation showed, it is quite easy to determine what trains are carrying. What the investigation fails to note is that the tank cars list not only their contents, but also who to call if something does go wrong.
  • Another point that the article fails to note is the general danger trains pose at Bartlett Ave. This is the most trespassed-upon stretch of track I have ever come across in all my years trackside. Yes, the chemicals pose a great threat, but statistically there is a greater risk that someone gets hit by a train.
  • Lastly, what about all the transport trucks crashing on Highway 401? How often does the Ministry of the Environment have to attend to clean up a spill when this happens? How many houses are build along the 401 corridor compared to the railway lines?
>>>Toxic chemicals, crude oil, radioactive material ride the rails through Toronto | Toronto Star<<<

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