RAC Dangerous Goods Team
One of the RAC’s primary activities is to promote the safe handling of dangerous goods by rail. This means ensuring that rail cars carrying dangerous goods meet strict standards, that products are properly packaged, labelled and documented, and that carriers handle rail cars safely.
The chemicals and petroleum products that are essential to our quality of life - from the chlorine we use to purify our drinking water, to the fuels we use to heat our homes and run our vehicles - represent roughly 12 per cent of all rail traffic moved in Canada. Rail is the safest mode of transportation for these products; in fact, dangerous goods shipments arrive at their destination 99.998 per cent of the time without a release caused by an accident.
Since its inception in 1999, the RAC Dangerous Goods Team has helped members handle the challenges that come with transporting dangerous goods across 61,000 kilometres of track in Canada.
The DG Team's role is to serve RAC members and the shipping community by promoting the safe transportation of dangerous goods, informing railway and shipper employees of safety best practices, and ensuring that regulations are followed.
Education and Awareness
RAC’s DG Team specialists provide information sessions, support and guidance to RAC members, shippers and the public. These sessions cover everything from regulations, to the proper preparation of shipping papers, to packaging selection, and the safe loading and unloading of rail cars and other containers. RAC’s DG specialists also play an active role in transportation community awareness and 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, on technical matters and in the development of industry standards.
Inspections and Audits
The RAC DG Team performs audits and inspections at member yards, to ensure that all cars and containers carrying dangerous goods comply with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations and the Association of American Railroads’ mechanical requirements. In addition, the DG Team assists RAC members in correcting any anomalies discovered during these audits.
RAC’s DG specialists also carry out independent and confidential regulatory compliance inspections at petroleum and chemical plants.
Emergency response advice and assistance
Commensurate with their knowledge of tank car design, construction and damage assessment, RAC’s DG specialists provide advice and expertise to rail personnel responsible for handling incidents involving dangerous goods.
They liaise with customers and emergency response contractors to obtain additional expertise and specialized equipment, as required. They also assist with implementing emergency response plans. Team members are stationed at strategic points across Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton and Saskatoon), and are on-call for emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The creation of the Canadian DG specialist team was a joint initiative of the RAC and the Transportation Technology Center Inc., a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads.