The rail freight corridor on the North side of Dupont (and bisecting Moore Park and Rosedale) carries up to 40 trains every day1.
Many of these trains carry crude oil: a flammable liquid that not only can severely damage the environment when spilled, but also can cause fiery explosions if its tankers derail and crash.
Recent railway disasters on this continent highlight the danger which crude oil railway transport presents to both human lives and the environment.
In 2017, two trains crashed near Dupont and Bathurst. While there were no victims in this crash, the same cannot be said for the town of Lac-Mégantic when in 2015 a train carrying 72 tank cars full of crude oil derailed next to the town.
This crash resulted in 47 victims4 and a large fire which burned for several days3.
In 2010, a tar sand pipeline ruptured in the Kalamazoo river in Michigan5. It is estimated that up to a million gallons of oil was released into the creek, which severely damaged the surrounding ecosystem. Despite years of clean-up efforts, many experts warn that the damage still lingers6.
Is Your Family in The Danger Zone?
According to SafeRail, a Toronto not-for-profit, the first 800 meters on either side of an oil zone railway is the Danger Zone for derailments, and the next 800 meters (1600 meters from either side of the tracks) represents the potential impact zone in case a derailment leads to explosions from damaged oil tankers, much like the one from the Lac- Mégantic disaster7.
Toronto Needs Safety and Prevention
Positive Train Control (PTC) is an advanced set of systems which uses GPS and fibre-optic network communication to ensure that all trains are operating safely.
Further, PTC acts as a fail-safe system to help eliminate human error: it contains an onboard computer that applies breaks if engineers fail to do so8.
While the U.S. Congress mandated the installation of PTC for its rail systems in 20089, Canadian trains, even those carrying dangerous substances, are not required to employ these safety systems2.
Canada needs stronger safety measures to ensure that our community never has to respond to a rail disaster in the first place, let alone one involving tankers carrying crude oil and other dangerous chemicals.