CP Rail defended its safety record to Revelstoke council on Tuesday, 12 days after a derailment downtown.
Mike Lovecchio, the manager of government affairs for CP Rail, addressed council about rail safety concerns, saying his company had the best safety record on the continent.
“We have been and continue to be the safest railroad in North America,” he said. “We have been so for over a decade.”
The presentation mostly focused on the transportation of dangerous goods, which Lovecchio noted was required under the Transportation Act.
“We have a common carrier obligation under the Canada Transportation Act which requires us to move all commodities,” he said, adding later, “As a railroad, from a risk profile, there are commodities we move that we would chose not to move if given the choice.”
Lovecchio went over CP Rail’s record, displaying charts that showed rail incidents were down in 2014, though generally it has hovered around two accidents per million train miles since 2000.
“99.997 per cent of time dangerous goods get to market without incident,” he said. “That 3/1000 of a percent that you see in on television is what everyone focuses on after Lac Megantic.”
Lovecchio said the DOT 111 cars that were being used to transport dangerous goods were being phased out and replaced with new CPC 1232 cars.
The chair of the Transportation Safety Board recently raised concerns about the new tanker cars in an interview with the Financial Post.
Lovecchio said CP has “a safety culture that is ingrained into everything we do.”
Still, he said the city should consider the rail line in its planning by, for example, not allowing houses to be built right next to the railway tracks.
“It doesn’t make sense to build houses right next to the tracks,” he said. “It is an industrial activity we are undertaking.”
Lovecchio was asked several questions by council. Linda Nixon asked about track inspections. Lovecchio responded saying the track is inspected two to three times a week. The company uses technology to determine if there’s an issue with the track, then sends out crews to conduct repairs.
Aaron Orlando asked about emergency response plans, particularly as it pertains to a heavy gas leak. Lovecchio passed the reply to Rob Girard, the city’s fire chief and emergency coordinator. Girard said the city had plans in place in case of an emergency, including possible evacuation of affected areas.
CP Rail would be responsible for any financial costs related to a derailment, said Lovecchio.
Mayor Mark McKee said the city “dodged a bullet” with only grain being spilled and not something more serious.
“It’s a concern for council, it’s a concern for the community,” he said. “I want to make sure we’re as vigilant as possible.”
As for the cause of the April 2 derailment, Lovecchio said it had yet to be determined.