Lately, I’ve been working on a feature article on the Lac-Megantic effect. Although many of us would consider the terrible tragedy in Lac-Megantic to be a rail issue, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has made it clear she sees it as not a rail issue, but a transportation issue. Trucking companies that haul dangerous goods are undoubtedly going to come under increased scrutiny as a result of the catastrophe that unfolded there. Government hearings focusing on the truck transportation of dangerous goods are already in the works.
I was becoming somewhat frustrated that many haulers of dangerous goods seemed reticent to discuss their craft, to talk about the important role they play in safely transporting dangerous goods. It was as though it was taboo to acknowledge trucking’s vital role in transporting commodities that have the ability to explode. Then I interviewed Marcel Pouliot, vice-president of safety and industrial services with Trimac. I interviewed him from the Cell Phone Lot at Orlando airport while on a working vacation. What a breath of fresh air. Here’s a guy who takes immense pride in what he and his company do, safely transporting all manner of dangerous goods. He’s passionate, articulate and prideful in the job he and his associates do. When I expressed to him my disappointment that more of his peers weren’t as candid and forthcoming as he was, he responded terrifically. Over to you, Marcel…
“I understand, and we as a company understand, the role that dangerous goods play in our lives. The obvious example of this is gasoline for your car or furnace oil or propane for heating your house, but chemistry is used in all sorts of consumer products from clothing and computers to cars, so they are a very important element of what I’ll call modern life.
“So I have no qualms in trying to help educate the general public around this, and at the same time to help (explain) what are the true risks about this? Just about every Canadian has fuelled their car at a service station at some point and would think absolutely nothing about pumping 30, 40, 50 litres (of gas) at a service station into their vehicle. In the whole chain of custody process to get that gas to the service station to go into the car, the weakest point is the person putting it into their vehicle. So, these products can be and are handled safely and have been for a long time.
“Lac-Megantic is a huge tragedy, absolutely, and you can’t use any lesser word than that to describe it. And for the right reasons, it’s bringing scrutiny to the segment. But trucking companies have been scrutinized by regulatory agencies for years and refocusing more scrutiny on dangerous goods is not something our industry should shy away from and if a carrier does shy away from it, they shouldn’t be in this industry.”
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