(Adds comments on timetable, and on Canadian Pacific requests)
By Allison Martell
TORONTO, April 4 Canada can move faster than the
United States to stop the use of older rail tanker cars for
carrying crude oil, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said on
Friday, adding that the government is under pressure after last
July's fiery derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people.
Raitt has stressed that the rail industry is deeply
integrated across Canada and the United States, making it
difficult to make unilateral regulatory changes, though she
implied on Friday that Canada may take at least some steps on
"It really is about making sure that we have an effort that
makes sense on a North American basis, understanding what the
timeline is in the United States, which is longer than ours,"
she told reporters in Toronto.
"We have the ability to move more quickly in Canada by
virtue of our system, and we don't have a prescribed method of
rule-making that they do in the United States."
She did not make clear whether she was talking about
requiring an earlier phase-out of the older tanker cars, the
DOT-111 model, than in the United States, or allowing and
encouraging rail and oil companies to take steps to discourage
The older DOT-111 tank cars, built before October 2011, are
considered more prone to puncture than newer models. The train
that derailed in Quebec in last July's disaster, which leveled
the heart of the town of Lac-Megantic, was comprised of DOT-111
Since October 2011, tank cars have been built to a safer
standard known as the CPC 1232 design, with reinforced outer
shells and protective shields. American and Canadian officials
have been working on an even tougher standard, but Canadian
Pacific Railway President Keith Creel said this process
could take 12 to 18 months to finish.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada and the two big
Canadian railways are exerting pressure for a speedy phase-out
of the DOT-111s. The railroads are required to haul old cars
loaded by shippers as long as the equipment conforms to
A reporter asked Raitt how Canada could phase tankers out
more quickly than in the United States, given the industry's
integration, and she pointed to actions by individual companies.
She referred to a decision by Irving Oil, a closely held
Canadian refiner, to stop using the older DOT-111s by April
"It's already happening, right now, because Irving has
already said they're not going to accept anything that isn't
their 1232s," Raitt said.
Canada's two dominant railroads, Canadian National Railway
Co and Canadian Pacific, have both indicated they plan
to move away from DOT-111s, she said.
"That is exactly one of the issues that we are grappling
with right now: how to do this on a North American basis that
makes sense," she said.
"But remember too ... one thing we have to balance here: Our
country suffered a great tragedy in Lac-Megantic, and we have to
be mindful that we need to respond to that, and ensure that
Canadians are protected and that they're safe."
Raitt has promised that the government will formally respond
on April 23 to recommendations from the Transportation Safety
Board stemming from the Lac-Megantic tragedy.
"Until then I'm not going to be talking about timelines
other than to say - I've already said - that 10 years is not
acceptable, so five years I've already said as well is probably
high," she said, referring to the phase-out of the older cars.
One area where Canada might be able to move independently of
the United States without setting out a timetable is to change
regulations so that the railways can increase surcharges for use
of the older DOT-111s.
CP has started putting a $325-per-car surcharge on the
DOT-111s but it says that because of current regulations, it
would lose in arbitration in Canada if it charged prohibitive
rates to force the DOT-111s out.
"I hear what CP is saying, but we're not at the point where
we're talking about the plan. We're going to continue to develop
the plan, and I have a hard deadline of April 23, so we'll see
then," Raitt said.
Canadian Pacific's Creel also said that regulations in both
Canada and the United States prevent his railroad requiring
shippers to carry adequate insurance.
(Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty; and Peter