By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Canada will require railways tostart telling municipalities what goods they have beentransporting through their jurisdictions, but the governmentacknowledged that such data would not have prevented the Julyderailment that demolished the heart of a Quebec town, killing47 people.
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said on Wednesday herdirective on railway disclosure met a request made by theFederation of Canadian Municipalities after a runaway traincarrying crude oil exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic,Quebec, in July.
Railways will be required to provide annual information onthe volume and nature of dangerous goods being transported inorder to help communities conduct risk assessments and emergencyresponse planning, and to train firefighters and other firstresponders.
"This part isn't about prevention. This part is aboutresponse," Raitt told reporters.
The president the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,Claude Dauphin, said the announcement was welcome news.
"The Lac-Megantic tragedy, and recent derailments in otherparts of the country, have underscored the critical role thatmunicipalities play in planning for and responding to railemergencies involving dangerous goods," he said.
But opposition leader Thomas Mulcair of the left-leaning NewDemocrats said it was a Band-Aid solution. He decried the factthat the volume of oil transported by rail has soared without acorresponding increase in federal inspectors.
"Informing the public three months or one year later is notanything to brag about," he said.
Canada's biggest railways are Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Canadian National Railway Co. The trainthat derailed in Lac-Megantic was operated by the Montreal,Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd.
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