Canadian official defends rail safety in wake of derailments

Jan. 13, 2014 at 7:11 AM

OTTAWA, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Shipping hazardous materials on the Canadian rail system is safe, Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said following two derailments.

Raitt defended rail transportation during a Sunday interview on "The West Block," a political news show on the Global Television Network.

"We have transported dangerous goods across this country for the last 100 years," she was quoted by the Edmonton Journal as saying during the broadcast. "But the reality is that the type of dangerous goods can change and we want to ensure we're doing everything we can to ensure there's safe travel."

A train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded Tuesday in New Brunswick, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 people who lived nearby, and a train carrying coal derailed Saturday in British Columbia. No injuries were reported in either accident.

Some rail cars carrying hazardous materials, designated DOT-111, are viewed as more prone to rupture than others, but Raitt defended their use.

"These cars are safe," she said. "They can transport the goods and they do so safely 99.997 percent of the time."

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