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Dangerous Goods Under Microscope on Parliament Hill

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Manitoba Trucking Association and the Teamsters all appeared today as witnesses at a hearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport into the safe transportation of dangerous goods by road.

Until now the committee’s focus has been taken up entirely with rail safety in the wake of the 2013 tragedy in Lac Megantic, Quebec where 47 people died as a result of an explosion of rail tank cars hauling crude oil.

The central message put forward by CTA – represented at the hearing by president and CEO David Bradley, VP of Operations, Geoffrey Wood, Rod Bantle, Senior VP, Transportation Services of Calgary (one of the country’s largest haulers of crude oil by truck) and echoed by MTA Executive Director Terry Shaw – is the frequency of dangerous goods incidents is so low (about 1.64 per 10,000 shipments) and usually minor in terms of impact. This is indicative of the fact that, overall, the industry is managing the transportation of dangerous goods proactively and effectively. Similarly, the results suggests the transportation of dangerous goods regulations in Canada, at least as far as trucking is concerned, are also working effectively.

“It is highly unlikely an incident of the magnitude of Lac Megantic could occur where trucks are involved,” Bradley said. “Trucks are not in the business of moving crude oil over long distances to refineries; it’s simply uneconomical. And the amount of product shipped by truck in a single shipment is small compared to a train of tank cars.”

Nonetheless, CTA did call for a number of safety measures to be introduced, regardless of whether the trucks are hauling dangerous goods or not, including a universal electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and a manufacturing standard requiring all new trucks be equipped with roll stability devices.

In addition, CTA called for greater enforcement of shipper responsibilities under the TDG regulations and certification of individuals providing TDG training.

MTA’s Shaw provided the committee with information on the comprehensive regulatory regime governing truck safety in Manitoba and the strong adherence to safety management systems by most carriers.

“With all the safeguards already in place, there is no need to regulate SMS’s in trucking,” he said. “Most carriers are already doing it.”

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