OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd said on Monday it is cooperating with a new federal safety investigation, after a media report raised allegations that it failed to apply adequate brakes when parking a train carrying flammable oil on a mountain slope in British Columbia.
The federal transport department confirmed that it had obtained a search warrant to investigate the alleged events from February 2015.
“I leave it to my investigators to follow up with complaints that they receive and concerns that they hear of and do their due diligence and I‘m glad that they’re following through,” Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said on Monday.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the department’s search warrant alleged that a CP manager ordered staff to leave the trains unattended on the evening of Feb. 14-15 without adequate brakes above the town of Revelstoke.
The CBC report cited anonymous sources as saying the trains had more than a dozen cars of flammable fuel oil. That has been an area of special concern since July 2013 when a runaway train crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.
Raitt later told CTV television she was stunned to hear the new allegations.
“It just defies my comprehension and if that is the case, and inspectors find it to be the case, then they better hold on because there will be charges coming,” Raitt told CTV.
The incident occurred as CP workers were launching a strike that would end on Feb. 16 when the union and management agreed to arbitration.
“CP is cooperating fully with Transport Canada and will continue to do so,” Martin Cej, a spokesman for CP, said. “As the investigation is ongoing, we have no further comment.”
Raitt said railway safety rules were updated last October by the Canadian government. It had issued an emergency order in October, requiring railway operators to increase measures in place to prevent runaway trains.
The order was responding to recommendations from the federal watchdog, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, as part of its investigation into the 2013 Lac-Megantic crash.
The Canadian transport and environment departments also filed new charges on Monday against several individuals and two companies in connection with the Lac-Megantic accident, Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Railway Ltd and its affiliate, the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Co., for allegedly violating federal railway safety and environmental laws.
Reporting by Mike De Souza; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio