Canada plans legislation to make railways more accountable

Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:55am EST
 
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OTTAWA Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Canadian government, which has pledged to make railways and shippers carry more insurance for oil shipments in light of recent fiery accidents, said it would introduce a bill on Friday to make rail transportation "safer and more accountable."

It recently gave notice of intention to introduce "An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act" and set a news conference for 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) to announce the new legislation.

Ottawa was galvanized into action after a runaway oil train exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in 2013, leveling the heart of the town and killing 47 people.

The costs of the cleanup and reconstruction far exceeded the C$25 million ($20 million) insurance carried by the now-bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, leaving federal and provincial governments to pick up the tab.

The government said in October 2013 that it would require shippers and railways to carry additional insurance "so they are held accountable."

The model the government has been examining is loosely based on the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund, set up in the 1970s to cover big maritime oil disasters and financed with levies on oil tanker shipments.

Government officials would not confirm what was in the bill being introduced on Friday.

($1=$1.25 Canadian) (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)