RAC Dangerous Goods Team
One of the primary activities of RAC is to promote and continually improve the safe handling of dangerous goods. Its aim is to make rail the safest and most efficient mode of transport. This means ensuring rail cars carrying dangerous goods meet strict standards, that consignments are properly packaged, labeled, placarded and documented, and that carriers handle the rail cars safely.
The chemicals and petroleum products that are essential to our quality of life - from purifying the water we drink, to the fuels we use to heat our homes and operate our vehicles represent 12 per cent of all rail traffic moved in Canada on a unencumbered, private right of way. That's why rail is the safest mode of transportation of dangerous goods. In fact dangerous goods shipments arrive at their destination 99.98 per cent of the time incident free.
Since its inception in 1999, the RAC Dangerous Goods Team has assisted its members with the issues and challenges that come with the transportation of dangerous goods across the 62,000 kilometres of track in Canada.
The RAC team's role is to serve its members and the shipping community by promoting the safe transportation of dangerous goods as well as informing railway and shipper employees of safe practices and by ensuring that the regulations are applied consistently.
Many companies that ship dangerous goods are committed to the Guiding Principles of Responsible Care®. Canadian Rail is committed to promoting these principles, which are imbedded in the Codes of Practice. Some RAC members are already formal partners in Responsible Care® with the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada and the American Chemistry Council in the United States.
Partners in Responsible Care are required to promote these principles throughout their transportation network, including their interchange partners. The TDG specialists help Canadian rail meet the expectations of regulators, customers, the public and all other stakeholders. With this initiative, the RAC not only promotes public safety, but also to expands its community outreach activities.
Education and Awareness
The DG Team specialists provide information sessions, support and guidance to its members, shippers and the public. This includes education in the regulations, proper preparation of shipping papers, packaging selection, the safe loading and unloading of rail cars and other containers. The specialists also play an active role in transportation community awareness and in emergency response preparedness by assisting in the development of industry-based dangerous goods training packages.
The team works closely with the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., the Bureau of Explosives and other industry and chemical producer committees in the development of industry standards, associated technical matters and in encouraging their application in Canada.
Inspections and Audits
The RAC DG Team performs audits and inspections at member yards to ensure that the cars and containers that carry dangerous goods comply with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations and AAR (Association of American Railroads) Mechanical requirements. These inspections are confidential and are reviewed prior to departure from the site by the means of a written report. However, responsibility does not end there. The DG Team also assists RAC members in correcting any anomalies discovered during these audits/inspections.
The specialists carry out independent and confidential inspections and audits for all aspects of rail transport to evaluate regulatory compliance and to identify opportunities for improvement in safety. As well, the specialists perform quality assurance audits and certify tank car manufacturing, overhaul and maintenance shops, as required.
Emergency response advice and assistance
Commensurate with their knowledge of tank car design, construction and damage assessment, RAC DG specialists provide advice and expertise to rail personnel responsible for handling incidents involving dangerous goods.
This includes liaison with customers and emergency response contractors to obtain additional expertise and specialized equipment, as required. They also assist with emergency response plans. The specialists are on-call for emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The creation of a Canadian DG specialist team is a joint initiative of the RAC and the Transportation Technology Center Inc., a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads.
Members of the RAC Dangerous Goods Team are located in strategic points in Canada (Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton).