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Published: January 26th 2010
Source: Ted Colley, Surrey Now
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CN Rail was fined $45,000 by Transport Canada earlier this month for operating trains in Surrey without an accurate list of dangerous cargo.

The railroad pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Railway Safety Act. Six other charges were dropped.

Canadian rules for the transportation of dangerous goods by rail require each train carrying such cargo to carry a shipping document listing the goods and a list of which cars are loaded with dangerous cargo and where each of those cars is located in the train.

The lists are used to locate dangerous goods in the event of an accident.

Cars carrying dangerous cargo must also be appropriately marked.

The CN infraction adds weight to a campaign by local activists who want an end to rail traffic on the BNSF line through Crescent Beach, Ocean Park and White Rock.

South Surrey resident Don Pitcairn works with SmartRail, a local group dedicated to chasing the railway off the Semiahmoo Peninsula. Pitcairn said there is a long history of landslides on the bluff overlooking the railway and he fears one will some day cause the derailment of a train loaded with toxic chemicals.

Increased runoff caused by development and tree removal leads to soil instability on the bluff and that in turn leads to slides.

"They'll stop AMTRAK because of a slide, but when the track is cleared they start running trains with dangerous goods through there again," Pitcairn said.

Sooner or later, he argues, a rail accident will happen, one that could bring deadly consequences for residents living nearby.

"I don't know if any of those CN cars travelled on this line, but all of these train companies have reciprocal agreements for track usage," Pitcairn said.

"SmartRail is working to get these trains off the peninsula for safety reasons."


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