Transport Canada wants to get a clearer picture of the movement of dangerous goods north of the 55th parallel. It has issued an RFP (request for proposal) for a study that will identify the dangerous goods that are transported through the north, and how these dangerous goods are being moved. The study will identify the hubs across Canada that serve the north and will reveal areas of potential risk.
Though the focus will be north of the 55th parallel, the study will also cover isolated points in northwestern Ontario and northern Quebec that are served only by air and/or by ice roads.
Transport Canada says it is unclear where and how dangerous goods are moving into and throughout the north, and where dangerous goods are stored and handled. There are gaps in information about the dangerous goods being transported, their volume and emergency response capabilities along transportation routes. The impact of an accident is unclear.
There are few options for the movement of dangerous goods in the north, as was starkly revealed when 2017 spring floods in northern Manitoba closed the only rail line to Churchill, halting all surface freight shipments until an ice road could be opened the following December. The seasonal nature of ice roads and ports limits routes of entry and exit for dangerous goods.
The information gathered through this study will be used to inform policy decisions and safety regulations on dangerous goods movements in the north.