EDMONTON – A training exercise was conducted in Edmonton Thursday on how to best respond to an emergency situation involving rail cars carrying flammable substances.
Emergency Response Assistance Canada (ERAC), Canadian Pacific (CP) and fire departments from Edmonton and Strathcona County participated in the safety training at CP’s Strathcona rail yard in south Edmonton.
“The events that lead to this type of need are very rare, but it’s very important to CP to maintain preparedness and know that we can respond effectively,” Glen Wilson, CP vice president of environmental risk, said.
“We want to protect the communities that we operate through, we want to protect our own employees.”
The exercise had three teams responding to a mock scenario involving leaking condensate, liquid petroleum gas and diesel rail cars that have gone off the rails.
“It allows us to do the practice that’s necessary so that we’re fully prepared in the event of an actual incident,” Spencer Buckland, president of Emergency Response Assistant Canada, said.
“Those incidents occur rarely but our teams are required to be trained and fully assessed before they can respond.”
ERAC is an emergency preparedness and response organization, funded by the industry, that provides responders, equipment and industry training for incidents involving flammable gases and liquids.
“Our first priority is the public’s safety and first responders safety and of course our own team’s safety. So by getting out and doing these exercises and this training and the assessment of these teams we can ensure that they have the skills necessary to do it safely,” Buckland said.
The focus for response teams is to contain the dangerous products then transfer them safely to a new rail car. While it was a mock exercise, the product used was real.
“It is important that these guys understand the product and they actually use the pumps that actually move that product through there,” Buckland explained.
CP’s own teams are capable of dealing with smaller incidents, but ERAC is called to assist with bigger leaks, the company said.
CP conducts about 200 training exercises per year, and said the exercises show how seriously the company takes safety.
“These exercises are an assurance that railways are treated seriously, that events are very rare, but we’re extremely prepared for those rare times when they do occur,” Wilson said.
The transportation Safety Board of Canada statistics show there were a total of eight main-track collisions and derailments in 2014 and a five-year average of four.