Call to ban hazardous loads in storms “not feasible”: OTA

PRESCOTT, ON – Prescott, Ontario mayor Brett Todd may want to ban hazardous cargo from Highway 401 during stormy conditions, but the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has responded in a letter that such a move is simply “not feasible”.

The mayor originally voiced his concerns at a council meeting in late March, following a March 14 crash and related hazardous material spill near Mallorytown that closed the highway for 30 hours.

“Why are there not regulations to keep this type of hazardous material off the road when the weather is bad?” the mayor said at the council meeting, according to the Brockville Recorder. Todd added that the town of Prescott’s location along the 401 corridor leaves it vulnerable to incidents like that.

During the council meeting, Todd reportedly said the 401 wasn’t the town’s only potential trouble spot, explaining that traffic is often rerouted onto Highway 2, which intersects with many of the town’s main streets. 

For its part, the OTA has highlighted the classification, procedures and training behind the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG), and also addressed the challenge behind halting the transport of hazardous loads during rough weather.  

“Drivers are trained to operate their vehicles in winter conditions. This type of training has led the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to continually label commercial trucks the statistically safest vehicles on the road,” the letter stated.

The OTA explained the intricate framework that makes up the list of 2,200 products classified as dangerous goods and the dynamics behind the way these materials are handled, whether in a warehouse or on the road.

“Every three years, truck drivers must be retrained in the handling of dangerous goods as are all other members of the supply chain, including shippers and receivers. It is the responsibility of drivers, in partnership with shippers, to maintain placards on their vehicles which indicate the dangerous goods they are carrying on board,” the letter stated, adding that each shipment is also accompanied by detailed paperwork. “The level of training and attention to detail by the first responder communities, shippers and receivers as well as the trucking industry results in very few spills on public roadways (estimated at one spill occurring every 40,000 shipments).” Even the smallest release qualifies as a “spill”.

The mayor has asked town staff to research provincial regulations and return to council with a report, according to the Brockville Recorder. The mayor said the town of Prescott could use the information to rally support from other municipalities for a ban.

Todd did not respond to requests from Today’s Trucking for comment. 



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