March 12, 2014

Canadian Pacific talks safety

ELIZABETHTOWN — Canadian Pacific Railway says that because of national security considerations, it can’t tell the public exactly what it would do at a rail disaster.

The railroad has an emergency-response plan that spells out how it would handle a derailment or accident, but what actions that would entail are not public information, Railway Director of Government and Public Affairs Randy Marsh said at a forum Tuesday.

The session in the Old County Courthouse at Elizabethtown was attended by dozens of town officials and emergency first-responders.

Marsh said Canadian Pacific is serious about emergency planning.

“Canadian Pacific does have an emergency-response plan. It’s an organic document that’s modified over time. I can’t share that with you, but every municipality should have an emergency-response plan.”


Local fire chiefs can get density reports of the most recent six months of rail traffic in their jurisdiction, he said, information not available to the public.

“That information is shared on a need-to-know basis for national security reasons. Our goal is a response time of under an hour (to an incident).

“We do operate in some remote territory, but we have set up our network in such a way that we can respond.”

He said Canadian Pacific has a command center with a 24/7 on-call response system.


Marsh said there has been concern about tank car trains moving through the region.

“Railroads don’t own the rail cars that are operated on their networks. Tank cars are owned principally by customers or companies that support those customers.”

In the case of the oil cars carrying crude oil from North Dakota to the Port of Albany, they are owned by the shipper hired by the oil companies.

“Security is a big issue today,” Marsh said. “There are people out there that want to do harm. It is a major concern for communities that people who want to do us harm are not in a position to do so.”

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