Backgrounder Article from
Improving emergency preparedness along Canada's railway lines
Requiring Emergency Response Assistance Plans for large volumes of flammable liquids
What is an ERAP?
An Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) is a formal plan that describes what industry will do to support first responders in the event of an accident involving their dangerous goods that require special expertise and response equipment. The ERAP assists municipalities and local emergency responders by providing them with around the clock technical experts and specially trained and equipped emergency response personnel at the scene of an incident.
The ERAP describes the specialized response capabilities, equipment and procedures that will be used to support a response to incidents involving higher risk dangerous goods. The plan also addresses emergency preparedness, including personnel training, response exercises and equipment maintenance.
Transport Canada works to ensure measures are in place to quickly respond in the event of an accident involving dangerous goods. Part of this works includes ensuring municipalities and first responders have the tools and information they need in a timely manner.
Current regulations require an ERAP for certain volatile refined fuels, such as gasoline and diesel when moving large numbers of cars in interconnected trains. They do not apply to crude oil or where smaller numbers of cars are transported. ERAP requirements are now being expanded to include specific flammable liquids transported in large volumes by train.
New Protective Direction
Under the authority of the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, Transport Canada is issuing a Protective Direction that requires shippers to develop ERAPs for the following flammable liquids: crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and ethanol. An ERAP is required when a single tank car contains one of these designated flammable liquids.
Industry must submit their ERAP to Transport Canada for approval within 150 days.
ERAP Task Force
Transport Canada is establishing a task force to further explore the recommendations made by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council emergency response working group. These recommendations include examining the use of incident command systems and the expansion of ERAP requirements for other Class 3 flammable liquids.
The task force will comprise experts from a number of organizations such as the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Aboriginal Firefighters’ Association of Canada, railway companies, shippers, municipalities and industry bodies. The task force will provide Transport Canada with comprehensive recommendations aimed at strengthening emergency response capacity across the country.
In addition to the information contained in ERAPs, first responders are supported by CANUTEC—Transport Canada’s 24-hour emergency response centre. CANUTEC is staffed with scientists who provide real time information and emergency response advice to first responders following an incident. They also provide them with a copy of the train consist, which contains details of the dangerous goods being transported. This information helps first responders to take the appropriate emergency response to protect public safety.
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