Government of Canada simulates train derailment to train first responders

News Release

February 24, 2017                      Lévis, Québec

On February 25-26, 2017, Transport Canada, and Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science will conduct Exercise Athéna, an exercise to improve the response capabilities of first responders to incidents involving a train carrying flammable liquids.

Volunteer firefighters from rural Québec, particularly the region around Lévis, will participate in this full-scale exercise. The exercise, taking place at L’Institut Maritime du Québec, will simulate a train derailment, and enhance the knowledge and techniques of responders.

Responders will learn about the many resources available during a complex incident through the Transport Canada Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) program. The ERAP provides first responders access to technical advisors and personnel as well as equipment for on-scene response should it be required. Transport Canada also offers assistance through the Emergency Response Guidebook, advice from Remedial Measures Specialists and access to the 24-hour Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC) emergency line.

This exercise is one of several activities put in place by the Government of Canada to improve public safety following the Lac-Mégantic train derailment. It is a critical step in the development of a standardized training curriculum for first responders across Canada. An exercise known as Exercise Vulcan was conducted in British Columbia last year.


“Rail safety remains  my top priority. Canada’s railway system travels through many rural communities and in the event of a derailment, volunteer firefighters are often first on the scene. It is crucial for their safety and for the safety of the communities they serve, that they have proper training to respond to an incident involving flammable liquids. The actions they take are critical to reducing the impact of the incident. My government remains committed to supporting communities along Canada’s rail corridors and recognizes the value that these exercises provide.”

Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“As a former first responder, I am proud that Defence Research and Development Canada can provide support to these important efforts to improving firefighters’ capacity to answer a call involving a train carrying flammable liquids. This kind information sharing will not only improve the safety of Canadian communities, but also protect first responders and bystanders in emergency situations.”

Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

“Recent train derailments have demonstrated how essential it is for first responders and industry to have systems in place to coordinate quick responses when disasters occur. That is why Public Safety Canada is proud to support disaster planning and training exercises, such as Exercise Athéna, through the Canadian Safety and Security Program, in partnership with Defence Research and Development Canada.” 

Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“The events of July 6, 2013, at Lac-Mégantic were extremely eye-opening. Flammable liquids transported by rail have been increasing every year and fire/emergency services must have the capabilities to respond to situations previously unknown to them. The work at Exercise Athena will give us another opportunity to further our knowledge of flammable liquids, of the best response techniques, of derailment site assessment, and, more importantly, how to effectively collaborate under a common command system.”

Former Fire Chief Denis Lauzon, Lac-Mégantic

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Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
1-866-377-0811 (Toll-free)

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