|November 6, 2005
Transport Minister Jean Lapierre says a federal audit of Canadian National Railway Co.'s safety practices has found "all kinds of
problems" and that Ottawa could call a public inquiry into the company's operations if changes aren't made.
Mr. Lapierre said yesterday that he has received a preliminary report of the audit and that he has written to CN, Canada's largest rail
carrier, to alert the company to the findings.
"We are finding all kinds of problems," Mr. Lapierre told reporters after Question Period. "We're hoping they get corrected fast." Mr.
Lapierre said he hopes the company will invest in making improvements.
Transport Canada took the unusual step of ordering the audit in August after a derailment in British Columbia caused sodium hydroxide
to be spilled into the Cheakamus River, killing an estimated 4,000 salmon and trout. Another derailment occurred in B.C. late last month.
The company also suffered an accident in Alberta in August that resulted in an oil and toxic-liquid spill. Alberta's government said it was
considering charges against the company for not revealing that the derailment might have contaminated a popular lake with a hazardous
CN said recently that it would change its operating procedures. Company spokesman Mark Hallman said yesterday that CN is "actively
co-operating" with the federal audit. He said that CN believes the audit will be extended to the entire industry.
Irene Marcheterre, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lapierre, said the audit is of the company only.
Mr. Hallman said that CN has the best safety record among North American rail companies, as measured by criteria established by the
U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. He also said that accidents involving CN have fallen 11 per cent so far this year, compared with the
same period a year ago.
There have been 19 accidents on the former BC Rail lines since CN Rail acquired the railway from the province in 2003. CN has said
that the lines have become safer since the company took control.
Source: Simon Tuck - Globe and Mail