As part of its ongoing investigation into the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway crude oil accident in Quebec on July 6, Canada's Transportation Safety Board has issued advisory letters to Canadian and U.S. authorities clarifying how dangerous goods are classified.
The board asked both governments to review regulations regarding the classification and transportation of hazardous materials.
The board found crude oil aboard the MM&A railcars was not documented properly and was packaged and identified as a less hazardous liquid against regulations. Had the goods been properly packaged, the board said, it wouldn’t have ignited so quickly after the derailment.
“The safety of individuals who handle or otherwise come in to contact with hazardous materials during transport is dependent in large part on an accurate description of the product being transported. An accurate description is critical to ensure that the product is packaged in the appropriate container and the proper loading and unloading procedures are used,” the board wrote in safety advisories to the Hazardous Materials Safety Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Transport Canada. “Also, this information is important during any emergency response activities to ensure that proper planning and measures are considered.”
In a statement, the National Transportation Safety Board expressed support for the TSB’s safety advisory, which was included in a letter to the Hazardous Materials Safety Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
“Clearly understanding the hazardous characteristics of what is being transported is one of the keys to safe transportation,” the NTSB said. - Jon Ross