Mayor ponders dangerous goods ban

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Tyler Clarke
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Mayor Greg Dionne expresses concern during Monday’s executive committee meeting about dangerous goods passing through the centre of the city. 

With yellow cake uranium and other dangerous goods passing through the centre of Prince Albert on a regular basis, the city’s elected officials are concerned.

 

Mayor Greg Dionne said that it might have to come down to banning dangerous goods from entering the city -- a measure he said he doesn’t want to take, but is willing to “for the protection of our public.”

“Especially the nuclear waste, (there) is a concern,” he said during Monday’s executive committee meeting.

“I think what we need to do, and I’ll be making this motion early in the new year, to ask the city solicitor, do we have the right to ban that material from coming through our city? -- because that is very dangerous.

“Do I want to ban them? No. Will I? Yes.”

“We just had a very productive meeting about economic development,” Coun. Rick Orr countered. “Nuclear transportation of nuclear products is probably one of the most regulated and safest there is to move through.”

When it comes to the question of allowing the transportation of dangerous goods through the city, Orr said that he “just can’t comprehend saying ‘no.’”

Currently, dangerous goods headed to or from the north must travel down Second Avenue West through the centre of Prince Albert and across the Diefenbaker bridge.

“Make no mistake, there aren’t too may bridges that lead to the north,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski noted.

“I think this is a pretty serious issue when you think of the fact that there’s only, basically, one road to the north, and that’s where most of the dangerous goods are being hauled to and from and the like,” Coun. Don Cody said.

The Prince Albert Area Second Bridge River Crossing report released earlier this year noted that Stantec consultants were confident that more than 5,000 loads of dangerous goods cross the Diefenbaker bridge per year.

The report also clarifies that “statistics regarding dangerous goods movements were not available,” with information gathered from mining and forestry corporations and some major transporters.

This has proven another point of contention, with city council wanting to know what dangerous goods are passing through the city -- a question they report having asked on several occasions, with the province unable to provide a concise response.

“We don’t know what’s going through our city and (if) there’s an accident on the bridge, we’re putting every first responder -- police, fire, ambulance driver -- at risk when they drive up there and they don’t know what’s there,” Dionne said.

“We have to train our fire department on how to handle that – we have to train our first responders.

“Everyone says it’s not going to happen, well it does happen, and it’s our responsibility to take care of that to make sure that we can limit our risk.

Earlier this year, the city’s elected officials endorsed a second bridge location east of the city, which would include a perimeter loop that would bypass the city and serve as a dangerous goods route.

The Saskatchewan NDP has continued to endorse the need for the second North Saskatchewan River crossing near Prince Albert while the Saskatchewan Party’s MLAs consistently cite the Prince Albert Area Second Bridge River Crossing report, which concludes that current traffic volumes do not warrant a second bridge.

After Monday’s meeting, Dionne said that he felt confident that the province “is going to work hard” on the issue of dangerous goods passing through urban centres, with the issue having long been flagged by municipalities as a concern. 

Click HERE for the intiail story on Monday's executive committee meeting of council.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Party

Geographic location: North Saskatchewan River

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  • Bryan Lee
    December 03, 2013 - 18:06

    This is great news that the city council are at least discussing the issue of high level nuclear waste possibly being transported through Prince Albert. Metis Nation-Sask. have passed a resolution that opposes the transport and storage of high level nuclear waste anywhere in the province.