Tankers derailed in Lac Megantic not properly documented: TSB
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:53AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2013 11:52PM EDT
Investigators with Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that the tankers involved in the Lac Meganic derailment were not properly documented, and contained oil that was more volatile than indicated.
The TSB said the crude oil that was transported by Montreal, Main & Atlantic Railway was documented as a Class 3 Dangerous Good (flammable liquid), group 3, when it should have been classified as a more volatile group 2 product.
Officials with the TSB said the classification impacts what kind of container the product is shipped in.
“The lower flash point of the crude oil explains in part why the crude oil ignited so quickly once the Class 111 tankers were breached,” TSB investigator Don Ross told reporters.
Ross said the TSB investigation into the derailment is ongoing.
The TSB investigation has previously said that a lack of adequate braking onboard the train could have caused the derailment.
In light of the new information, the TSB officials said it has also issued safety advisory letters to Transport Canada and its counterpart in the United States, calling for reviews of the documentation processes for suppliers and companies transporting or importing dangerous goods.
Rob Johnston of the TSB told CTV's Power Play that in this particular case, under the current regulations, that workers would have used the same tanker, even if the product was placed in the proper packing group.
Johnston questioned the safety of the tankers carrying volatile products and says that the TSB and similar U.S. groups have documented problems with the tankers over the past 20 years.
"I think that since the product characteristics are one thing to consider when identifying safe containment for it brings into question the adequacy of these tankers," Johnston said.
Johnston said that the product inside the tankers that derailed in Lac Megantic had the same flashpoint as gasoline.
"Safety is essential to transporting this product," he said.
Raynald Marchand of the Canada Safety Council says that had the product inside the tankers been properly documented it is possible that the conductor would have “looked at it differently.”
Marchand added that given the massive explosion it makes sense for the product to have been from the more flammable group 2.
The oil originated from different suppliers in North Dakota and was properly labelled while it travelled by truck but once the oil was transferred onto train tankers, the documentation was wrong.
According to Transport Canada, Irving Oil may have been responsible for labelling the crude oil, but that has not been proven. Irving Oil did not provide a comment to CTV News.
Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt released a statement warning the transportation industry of possible legal consequences.
"I have directed my officials are Transport Canada to examine this recommendation as quickly as possible. If a company does not classify its good it can be prosecuted under the transportations of dangerous goods act," the statement read.
Raitt visted Lac Megantic just after the tragedy occurred and says she will never forget the devastation.
"You want to have the safest, most efficient transportation system you can have. And there's always room for improvement," Raitt said.
The train derailment on July 6 in Lac Megantic left 47 people dead and much of the downtown core desolated.
Alberta's municipal affairs minister Doug Griffiths said that his government is greatly concerned by the tragedy in Lac Megantic and is watching the investigation closely.
"In Alberta we are exporting about 3.5 million barrels of crude oil a day. About a million of them are going out by rail," Griffiths told CTV's Power Play.
Griffiths called for more pipelines to be built because he believes pipelines are far safer than rail transportation.
"It's important to still work on pipeline traffic east and west so we can get to new markets as safely as possible," Griffiths said. "If you have a small leak (in a pipeline) and you can contain quickly instead of something perhaps more devastating."
With report from CTV News Daniele Hamamdjian