Letter: Plenty of blame to share for PoCo rail fire

The Editor, Re. “Comms kerfuffle at rail yard blaze” (The Tri-City News, Sept. 5).

The Editor,

Re. “Comms kerfuffle at rail yard blaze” (The Tri-City News, Sept. 5).

article continues below

Following the massive explosion and fire at the Port Coquitlam CP Rail yard in January, I was sure that the Transport Safety Board of Canada (TSB) would investigate this incident.

Now, reading in The Tri-City News that the TSB considers this incident an industrial accident and will not being investigated is shocking and outrageous.

Do we want or need another Lac-Mégantic-type rail disaster before the community is made aware of the events of that night and what is being done to mitigate any further incidents?

The community grew up around the rail yard but, as a good corporate neighbour, CP Rail needs to be open, honest and transparent when it comes to incidents involving explosive, toxic and hazardous chemicals in this yard.

PoCo’s mayor and council need to provide this community with answers. We need to know if the community dodged a catastrophic incident that evening only because the tanker sustained a large rupture and CP crews moved other hazardous products quickly.

Our elected representatives need to provide some answers. PoCo MLA Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam) need to contact Marc Garneau, the federal minister of transportation and demand the TSB investigate this incident.

We cannot rely on the goodwill of a private company to do the right thing. Hiding behind an industrial accident on land governed by federal regulations is not comforting.

As for the “comms kerfuffle” during this incident, one would hope that the new E-Comm radio system will resolve any future communication issues.

What’s more concerning is the lack of pre-planning for such an incident, contingency plans if there is a bigger incident with loss of fire personnel and equipment, coverage of the community during this incident (fires, car accidents, medical emergencies, etc.), and the poor communications with CP personnel.

A shared Tri-City fire service would address all these issues and more.

Geoff Taylor, Port Coquitlam

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