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Ottawa, 13 December 2011—Transport Canada and the National Energy Board need to improve their oversight of organizations who are required to comply with regulations governing the movement of dangerous products within Canada, says Scott Vaughan, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in his report tabled today in Parliament. Both entities have undertaken only limited follow-up to ensure that identified deficiencies are corrected.
“Good oversight of regulatory compliance is necessary to protect public safety and the environment,” said Mr. Vaughan.
Transport Canada regulates shipments of dangerous products by road, rail, air, and ship; the National Energy Board regulates the flow of oil and gas through pipelines.
The audit found that the National Energy Board has yet to review emergency procedures manuals for 32 regulated companies. In all of its manual reviews that the audit examined, the Board had found deficiencies but there was little indication that it followed up to verify that the companies had taken corrective action.
The audit also found that Transport Canada does not know to what extent organizations transporting dangerous goods are complying with regulations. Its review of emergency response plans submitted by organizations is not timely or adequate. It has given temporary approval for nearly half the plans required for the transport of the most dangerous regulated goods, such as types of ammonia, acids, and explosives. Temporary approvals are subject to less verification and have been in place for ten years and more in some cases.
“Many of the weaknesses we found in Transport Canada were identified more than five years ago and have yet to be fixed,” said Mr. Vaughan.
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The chapter “Transportation of Dangerous Products” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.