French goods

by Carroll McCormick

MONTREAL, Que. – While Transport Canada pushes forward with plans to clear up the language surrounding Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations, Quebec is planning an even-stricter approach with its version of the rules.

Quebec’s revised Transportation of Dangerous Substances (TDS) regulations, which should come into force by early 2001, will require all tractor-tanker combinations and long-body tankers to eventually have ABS brakes, even if that means retrofitting them to existing vehicles. And that’s only one of a series of changes.

This latest set of revisions – the first since May 1997 – should go into law by early 2001. Two years after the revised regulations come into force, tractor-trailer combinations used to haul such goods will require ABS brakes. Straight-truck tankers will have four years to comply.

“I’m not sure if the dates will stay like that, but that is the general idea,” says Claude Emond, a physical sciences specialist with Transports Quebec.

As of April 1, Transport Canada began to require ABS for equipment with a Gross Vehicle Weight of more than 3,000 kg. But there have been no plans to retrofit equipment on a national basis.

The ABS retrofit clause is different from anywhere else, says Emond. “In the U.S., ABS has been compulsory for tractors since 1997 and for trailers since 1998, but there are no retrofits. We looked at two things. We looked at dynamic stability. We realized that tank trucks are unstable. They are hard to stop and are prone to jackknifing. A combination of ABS in one part (either tractor or trailer) and non-ABS in the other part is a bad idea.”

But this isn’t the only requirement expected to come with the province’s own version of Dangerous Goods regulations.

Quebec is also planning to require so-called black boxes that will register and record tanker speeds driven over a yet-to-be-determined number of hours. (Carriers will be responsible for installing and controlling the devices.

Tankers are involved in 60 per cent of accidents involving dangerous goods, according to Emond. And this higher risk is going to be reflected in tougher driver training and certification requirements. For new drivers, says Emond, “We are asking any schools approved by Transports Quebec to include a practical examination on a tank truck or simulator.”

Established drivers will be able to refer to their experience; drivers’ bosses will be allowed to certify employees who have a minimum of one year practical experience driving a tank truck and three years driving a heavy vehicle. If the driver and the owner happen to be the same person, a formal test will be required. Previous regulations simply required a Class 1 licence for a tractor-trailer combination and a Class 3 licence for a straight body, in addition to training specific to the handling of dangerous goods.

In the future, licences may even have a special tanker sub-class, similar to the three sub-classes that now exist for air brakes, manual transmissions and long combination vehicles.

Of course, these aren’t the only items set to change. Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods legislation has been under revision since 1992 as the Clear Language Program. That new legislation will come into force 12 months after it is published this summer in Part 2 of the Canada Gazette.

Although the federal legislation will be adopted across Canada, provinces have the right – which Quebec has traditionally exercised – to add extra clauses. Once a vehicle enters Quebec, for example, it must then be compliant with the Quebec regulation.

“We have to go towards Quebec regulations, which are more stiff than Ontario’s,” says Mac Murray of Canada Liquid Air’s Ottawa Division. “(For example) trucks have to stop at railroad crossings in Quebec, but not in Ontario.” Quebec also forbids the transportation of dangerous goods through tunnels, with one carefully monitored exception being the Melochville Tunnel that connects Beauharnois with Melocheville on Grande-Ile.

Murray explains, though, that meeting any special requirements set by Quebec is simply another detail in the complex business of inter-provincial trucking.

Quebec is also modifying the requirements for tanker construction, making them more stringent than the federal regulations.

Quebec and Ontario both have slightly higher requirements for vehicles carrying petroleum products already. They are, according to Emond, the requirement to use CSA/B620-specification TC306 or TC406 tanks. The two provinces have long required spec’ tanks for gasoline, and that they be rechecked every 24 months.

In the latest Quebec amendments, however, spec’ tanks and periodic testing will also be required for diesel. The Ontario regulations, says Emond, require spec’ tanks for diesel but say nothing about testing. The federal legislation requires only that whatever tanks are being used must not leak. It will only require spec’ tanks for diesel fuel in 2010.

The federal legislation has a grandfather clause that allows non-spec’ tanks for gasoline to be used and tested for leaks and pressure until 2005. “After 2005 the federal government will require spec’ tanks for gasoline. All the provinces have agreed to use the same specifications. They are the same specs as in the United States,” Emond explains.

Quebec’s revised regulations will also disqualify A-trains and B-trains over 25 metres in length from carrying dangerous goods.

As for rewriting Quebec’s regulations in clearer language, such as Transport Canada has been doing, Emond explains that although some rewriting has been done with a view to improving its readability, “We are not there yet. The Quebec amendments will be processed first.”

Emond will have her hands full, putting the Transport Canada regulations in place in Quebec. Most provinces can enshrine the federal regulations into their own by simply referring to the law by name, or by copying them word for word into the provincial laws. But, she says, “Quebec does not grant blanket approval to federal regulations. Federal regulations have to go to consultation with the industry. It is not an easy process.”

Emond will spend the 12 months between the appearance of the amended federal regulations in Part 2 of the Canada Gazette and their application explaining to Quebec’s Legislative Bureau how each clause benefits Quebec industry.

“I say it is because it harmonizes requirements and it allows Quebec to export outside the province,” says Emond. “The goal is harmonization. My goal is to be able to adopt into the regulation the new federal Clear Language regulation.” n

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