Canada’s second-largest railway revealed last week that it is seeking authority to refuse dangerous shipments, just a couple of days before another oil train derailed and caught fire near Gogama, Ontario, south of Timmins.
“Our board of directors looked at this very carefully and said, ‘what kind of exposure do we have and what kind of exposure are we [exposing] the public to by hauling some of these commodities?’” Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison told BNN television. “And in spite of the bottom line—and I was very proud—we’ve sat back and said we might get out of this business.”
“In addition to the right to reject some shipments, CP wants the ability to refuse to move dangerous goods on certain routes through heavily populated areas such as Chicago or Toronto,” the Globe and Mail reports. The company “wants an overhaul of the so-called common carrier obligations of the Canada Transportation Act that require railways to haul any and all legal goods in rail cars that meet safety standards.”
In northern Ontario, meanwhile, residents of Gogama and the Mattagami First Nation were told not to go outdoors or drink tap water after a Canadian National Railways oil train derailed and several tanker cars caught fire around 2:45 Saturday morning. The owner of the Gogama Village Inn, about two kilometres from the crash, “said she is thankful the winds are blowing in a different direction, but feared smoke from the fire could force the town to be evacuated,” the CBC reports.
“Hopefully there is not going to be a next time and our town will be safe,” said Roxanne Veronneau. “But when you see like, 100 cars, I don’t know, 70 cars of crude oil coming right down the middle of your town, the thought crosses your mind when you see what’s happened in Quebec.”