Feds look to boost safety of crude-shipping trains

A firefighter stands near the wreckage of a train derailment and explosion, in Lac-Megantic July 8,...

A firefighter stands near the wreckage of a train derailment and explosion, in Lac-Megantic July 8, 2013. The driverless, runaway fuel train that exploded in a deadly ball of flames in the centre of the small Quebec town started rumbling down an empty track just minutes after a fire crew had extinguished a blaze in one of its parked locomotives, an eyewitness said. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

Jessica Hume, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 4:20 PM ET

OTTAWA — The federal government plans to classify crude oil in a higher-risk category when being shipped by rail and make emergency response plans a requirement for shipping companies, in the wake of the Lac Megantic, Que., catastrophe that left 47 dead.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says expert panels from Transport Canada will propose new regulations for classifying crude oil as a highly dangerous substance — more serious than the current 'flammable' classification — and toughen safety and testing procedures.

A runaway train carrying crude oil derailed in the small town of Lac Megantic in July. The explosion levelled the downtown core. The crude had come from the Bakken region — an area that encompasses North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Investigators found Bakken crude far more explosive than oil from other regions.

The crash drew attention to oil being shipped by rail, which has become increasingly common in the last several years as pipelines ha


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