Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities.
I am honoured to rise in this debate to outline the measures our government is taking to strengthen rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods in general and specifically to strengthen the standards of railway tank cars.
It has been said before, and it is worth repeating, that public safety and accident prevention remains this government's priority. It has always been and will continue to be the case. Our government remains committed to the safety of all Canadians and it will take all appropriate actions to ensure their safety during the transportation of flammable liquids, such as crude oil. Incidents, such as the tragedy that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, to the most recent incidents near Gogama, Ontario, reinforce our resolve to develop an appropriate safety regime that would protect all Canadians.
Our government has taken many actions to strengthen the safety of railway transportation and the transportation of dangerous goods following the tragic events in Lac-Mégantic in July 2013, and to address the recommendations in the fall 2013 report of the Auditor General of Canada. Since the Lac-Mégantic train derailment, we have initiated regulatory measures to strengthen tank car standards.
On April 23, 2014, under the authority of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Transport Canada issued a protective direction requiring the immediate phase-out of the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from dangerous goods service. Roughly 5,000 tank cars in North America can no longer be used for dangerous goods service in Canada, but can be repurposed to transport non-dangerous goods.
On July 2, 2014, Transport Canada published regulations updating the legacy of the DOT-111 tank car standards to require thicker steel, half-head shield protection and top-fitting protection. All newly manufactured tank cars built for dangerous goods service, corrosives and flammable liquids must comply with this minimum standard. The tank car may be a jacketed or unjacketed tank car.
Transport Canada also introduced a requirement for proof of classification of dangerous goods.
On July 18, 2014, a regulatory proposal that would phase out DOT-111 tank cars and mandate an even more robust tank car standard specifically designed for the transfer of flammable liquids to replace the CPC-1232 tank cars was announced. The new class of tank car would include thicker steel and require the tank car to be manufactured as jacketed, thermally-insulated tank cars, with a full head shield, top-fitting protection and a new bottom outlet valve. The proposed requirements would also require the CPC-1232 and the DOT-111 tank cars to be retrofitted to improve their features and crash resistance.
Our government has been working in close collaboration with the U.S. to harmonize the tank car standards and retrofit timelines as much as possible. We are in the final stages of developing standards for the next generation of tank cars for the transportation of flammable liquids. This would further reduce the risk of product leaks in the event of a derailment. We have expeditiously developed this new proposed tank car design, which would phase out the current DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars for the transport of flammable liquids by rail.
The new tank car design would be the most robust tank car for the transportation of flammable liquids. In addition, to support the new tank car design, our government will bring forward retrofit requirements to meet the direction on the phase-out or retrofit schedule for the highest risk legacy DOT-111 tank cars, as announced on April 23, 2014.
The proposed TC-117 tank car, formerly referred to as the TC-140, would be the new standard for tank car manufacturers to use for the transport of flammable liquids in packing group I, II and III, such as crude oil, ethanol, gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. Following publication of a final regulation, the TC-117 would replace the current tank car standard, which was published in the Canada Gazette, part II, on July 2, 2014.
Once published, the TC-117 regulation would provide a prescriptive or performance-based retrofit requirement to which all legacy DOT-111 and CPC-1232/TP 14877 tank cars would be required to meet. The regulation would also provide a risk-based retrofit, timeline schedule, which establishes the type of tank car to be used by certain dates for the transport of certain flammable liquids, either by specific name or by packing group. The TC-117 is part of a holistic risk-based approach to enhancing public safety during the transport of flammable liquids by rail.
Our government has taken a number of other actions on rail safety. We have introduced new train operation requirements, reduced train speeds, proposed new compensation and liability requirements, increased railway inspections, introduced new classification requirements, required the sharing of dangerous goods information with municipalities, expanded emergency response assistance plan program to include flammable liquids, and we have removed the oldest tank cars from dangerous goods service in Canada.
Our Government has been open and transparent in our approach to bringing forward a new tank car standard. As evidence of this, anyone can go on Transport Canada's website and find up-to-date information about tank car standard and timelines associated with retrofitting.
Going forward, our governments remains committed to working with industry; all levels of government, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and its National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group; regulatory officials in the United States; and other key stakeholders, such as the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, to examine means of further improving railway safety and the safe transportation of dangerous goods. Thanks in large part to these positive and productive working relationships, we continue to make progress on this important file.
To conclude, while Canada has a strong safety regime for railways and the transportation of dangerous goods, our government continues to take action to improve the safety and accountability of Canada's railways.
We are confident that the actions we have taken, in collaboration with our partners, will set a stronger standard for the next generation of tank cars used to transport flammable liquids and by doing so, will reduce the chance of leaks in the event of a derailment.
The actions our government has taken go well beyond a mere response to recent rail incidents. Rather, we seek to assure Canadians that we are doing what needs to be done to strengthen the safety of our railways and the transportation of dangerous goods. These actions demonstrate our belief in the continued use of railway shipping and the transportation of dangerous goods, and they demonstrate our commitment to the safety and protection of all Canadians.