Manitobans take notice of Saskatchewan derailment


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Thursday's oil-train explosion in Saskatchewan has only raised the fears of those concerned about rail safety in Manitoba.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/02/2020 (1141 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thursday’s oil-train explosion in Saskatchewan has only raised the fears of those concerned about rail safety in Manitoba.

“It’s just scary,” said Bev Pike, a member of the South Osborne Residents Group.

Her grassroots organization has raised concerns about the increasing number of oil tankers passing through Winnipeg, and railways breaching safety protocols in the city. Last summer, Transport Minister Marc Garneau took the railways to task over insufficient policies regarding fatigue.

“There are far more dangerous goods passing through the city,” Pike said. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Bruce Campbell, a York University researcher who has examined shortfalls in regulation around the 2013 Lac-Mégantic, Que., railway disaster, said the two recent oil-train derailments in Saskatchewan follow another last March in Manitoba.

“A bullet has been dodged, again — twice in Saskatchewan, and once in St. Lazare. At some point, if this is a kind of Russian roulette, at one point, it will be a repeat of history,” said Campbell.

He was confused by Garneau insisting Canada has a safe railway system, but then implementing speed limits Thursday on trains carrying dangerous goods.

“It’s definitely a contradiction,” Campbell said. “‘I’m cutting speeds in half — but don’t worry.’”

Campbell argues Canadian companies have cut corners by not implementing safety protocols and risk-mitigation technology used in the United States.

Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton raised the same argument in Parliament on Thursday, claiming “the rail companies continue to put profits over the lives of workers and the safety of communities.”

Both CN and CP Rail insist safety is their top priority.

— Dylan Robertson 

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