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MP Julian calls for more openness from rail companies

Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian -
Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian
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Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian is calling on the federal government to force railway companies to warn municipalities when trains carrying hazardous materials come through their boundaries.

The New Democrat MP was writing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in response to the Jan. 11 spill of coal into Burnaby's Silver Creek after a Canadian Pacific Railway train, operated by a CN Rail crew, derailed.

"While this incident could still compromise the ecosystem, we were fortunate that the train was not transporting a more dangerous substance—something that is increasingly happening with rail transportation in Canada," Julian wrote, referring to the Lac-Mégantic derailment and explosion of crude-oil-carrying tanker cars, killing 47 people in the Quebec town last summer.

Currently, railway companies are not required to give advance notice about the kinds of materials being transported through municipalities, which can hinder the response of emergency responders called out to such accidents.

Julian also called on the government to include local municipalities in its review process.

"The policy of self-regulation which allows railway companies to police their own safety has spectacularly failed," he wrote. "Your government should no longer compromise public safety by depending on the voluntary compliance of railway companies."

Julian has also submitted a "Question on the Order Paper" in the House of Commons to the Ministry of Transport requesting details of railway security issues within 45 days.

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