CSL to meet with CP over railyards

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

July 10, 2013

Côte St. Luc asked for, and will be getting, a “frank and open” meeting with CP Rail regarding safety and security issues relating to the St. Luc yards, which neighbours that city, in light of the railway disaster in Lac Mégantic involving a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train, Councillor Dida Berku told The Suburban Monday.

Railyards surround Côte St. Luc.

Councillor Dida Berku spoke to Breanne Feigel, director of public affairs for CP, on Monday.

“I told her we want more accountability and assurance of security for the residents, because we live next to the largest railyard in Quebec,” Berku told The Suburban Monday. “I want details of the transport of dangerous goods and oil, and other hazardous materials.

“That’s a major issue with the railways — they don’t want to reveal what cargo they’re carrying. They don’t want to tell us how many tankers of oil, or chlorine, they carry. They say it’s for security reasons, it could be for that or for commercial reasons. They don’t give away that information.

“But, on the other hand, our residents want to know, and there’s more and more oil tankers going through railyards. We also want to know what security measures are being taken to prevent major accidents. We want more cooperation and information.”

Berku said that at St. Luc, cargo trains share tracks with AMT commuter trains, which travel in the area of Baily Road during the day while freight and cargo travels at night.

The councillor added that some issues have to be addressed with the federal government.

“One of them is how do municipalities get access to information, if not totally public, at least for emergency preparedness. We have an emergency preparedness plan, and in order to properly prepare, we need to know what kind of materials are being transported.”

Another issue is the security of the tracks. Berku said those commenting have said that the Lac Mégantic disaster would not have happened in Europe, as there are more safety measures on the tracks.

“The problem in Canada is the tracks are privately managed, so the government doesn’t really have that much control over the safety of the tracks. That has to be addressed at the federal level.”

Breanne Feigel of CP told The Suburban the rail company will not be offering any comments “out of respect to the residents of the Quebec community at the centre of this tragic incident, and the investigations now taking place.”

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Jordy Reichson, head of public safety in Côte St. Luc, said the possibility of train derailment, the response to it and possible consequences, are covered in the city’s emergency preparedness plan.

“We hope that nothing like what happened in Lac Mégantic happens anywhere, but if it was to happen, because of the unique nature of the railways and the fact they’re governed by federal legislation, there’s coordination between the city’s emergency plans and the railyards. What works to our direct advantage, as far as Côte St. Luc is concerned, is that the CP police office is just at the end of Westminster, and we have good relations with them in terms of coordinating and communicating the on scene resources to make sure they do what they need to do [in case of disaster], such as stopping other rail traffic and evacuating cars.”