Friday, July 11, 2014

Opinion

Train of Thought

Yale BC residents worry about safety after rail accident

Submitted by Wendy Bales, FVRD Dir Area C/Voice file photos

 

Crews clean up after a derailment at the Evans Rd Crossing in March 2010.

 

ucky this time, but it serves as a wake-up call to residents that were already concerned. I have discussed my concerns about train issues with Dennis Adamson several times, (FVRD Director for area B) before this accident. It has been a hot topic at a few local government forums. Some are also concerned that the escalation in reported accidents will be used as a selling point to promote pipelines, that are also a  risk to safety and habitat.

 

My own concern in the last year has grown as some of our local mayors are in support of US coal being railed through the Fraser Valley on our already over capacitated rail lines, (remember that we didnít have enough capacity for our Canadian grain). Residents have contacted me about their concerns as well about the ware and tear on tracks from heavy train loads.

 

I suspect that in part that support for US coal by Mission and Abbotsford Mayors  and some council members is fueled by wanting to do more barging of coal out of Mission. Why else would you want to further risk the health of the Sturgeon Reach and all the residents and water ways along the rail route?  

 

This is by the way US coal that US resident donít want in their own ports as they ramp down on dirty fuels?.  One difference in the US is that their Port Authority is elected and so I suspect that they may be more influenced by public opinion. Coal dust has been detrimental to industries based on habitat health at the mouth of the Fraser.

 

Remember the coal train spill in Burnaby early this year, those tracks were just inspected (that spill into silver Creek that empties into Burnaby lake has still not been adequately cleaned up).

 

One point not made was that individual train cars are also getting  longer, which makes me wonder if they take the corners as well. I would compare empty cars and some that are stacked, with when I used to have a van and would drive without any weight in it. You have to drive a lot more cautiously around corners and in the wind or snow as they can roll easily.

 

In the Dogwood case the rail company was reportedly warned about 6 months previously in an email from a resident about the need for track maintenance at the crossing. They did come to look at it, but residents report that nothing was done to fix it. It seems to me that if you let companies self-regulate or anyone to regulate for that matter,  unless you make them liable for an effective price for damages that it will just keep happening more often. That said the cost of risking lives is priceless.

 

As with the Lac-Míegantic case companies could just claim bankruptcy and leave local governments on the hook for a large part of the bill and habitat that cannot be so easily replaced.

 

Good advice that was from Dogwood news clip, is that if you notice anything that doesnít look right about the tracks send the company an email and keep a record.  Also if you can, get a neighbor to back you up. At least that way if there is something that does affect property and life you will have a record.

 

 

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