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Rail companies should deliver cargo details, says city

Civic politicians are seeking more information from rail companies about what’s being shipped on Richmond rail lines.

Following a recent unanimous vote, city council is urging Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt to open up the information railway—so local emergency response officials know the nature, exact volume and frequency of dangerous goods being transported here.

New federal rules require rail companies to provide municipalities with quarterly reports on transported materials. But the report only provides total amounts, and the information comes after the material has already moved through Richmond.

It’s good information, according to Richmond Fire-Rescue Chief John McGowan, but not detailed enough. More data would help in emergency planning and emergency response training, he said.

“It helps for more precise planning when we understand the exact nature of the risk coming through our city,” McGowan told council.

The federal government introduced new disclosure rules for railway companies last November, following the July 6, 2013 rail disaster in Lac-Megantic, Que. Forty-seven people died after a derailment and explosion levelled the centre of the small Quebec town.

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