The City is conducting a comprehensive air quality human health risk assessment of the current and predicted 2030 exhaust emissions from Canadian Pacific (CP) rail operations in the City of Pitt Meadows.

The initial report, completed in November 2021, examined current conditions and projected future pollutants and carcinogens from CP railway emissions in Pitt Meadows. This provided key data in relation to air quality standards in Canada and potential human health risks that will be expanded upon in the next part of the study.

Further results will be presented in the final study report. The second part of the study considers additional pollutants from diesel emissions that have known health risks and to collect additional air quality data from targeted locations throughout Pitt Meadows.

What's New

Interim Report - Pitt Meadows Preliminary Air Quality and Human Health Risk Assessment of Railway-source Diesel Emissions

On November 23, 2021 - Envirochem Services Inc., shared their initial analysis of the current and projected diesel emissions from Canadian Pacific’s (CP) railway operations in Pitt Meadows. Read the staff report and watch the Council presentation.

Key findings:

  1. Based on the past four years of available data from the regional air quality monitoring station on Old Dewdney Trunk Road, local air quality has generally only exceeded Metro Vancouver’s current air quality objectives when wildfire smoke has impacted the region.
  2. Air quality modelling of hazardous fine diesel particulate matter, using worst case scenarios of train volumes, emission levels, and idling locations, projects that current worst-case locations show that contaminant levels from diesel locomotives can lead to increased risk of cancer, respiratory illness, cardiovascular conditions, and other health conditions. With projected 2030 train operations and the proposed CP Logistics Park (again using worst-case scenarios), the estimated risk of these health conditions increases.

More information, see the full report.

What's Next

The initial study has provided useful baseline data and identified potential health risks from a lens of worst-case scenarios. The next step of the study will collect additional air quality data at specific locations close to the rail lines and in other strategic areas.

The consultant will use the modelled data to identify locations to install temporary air quality monitoring stations to collect air contaminant levels over the coming months.

They will also expand the risk analysis to consider other diesel emission components (e.g., CO, SOx, NO2) that have known health risks. The new data collected will be compared to regional air quality station data and air quality objectives.

Staff will continue to work with Metro Vancouver and Fraser Health staff to identify a process to address and advocate for reduced train pollutant levels along the rail corridor. The City will also advocate for enforceable and appropriate health-based regulatory air quality standards for railway emissions to protect community members from related health risks.

Key Regulatory Facts

Based on a review of relevant air quality and emissions standards and regulations, there are no enforceable standards governing the impacts on local air quality by train emissions.

Metro Vancouver does regulate regional production of harmful emissions; however, they have no jurisdiction over trains operated by federally regulated railways. 

The Canada Locomotive Emissions Regulation restricts maximum pollutant outputs for locomotives being brought into service based on their age of manufacture, with increasingly stringent standards for new and remanufactured locomotives. Over time, locomotives will produce fewer pollutants as they are re-fitted with emission controls to comply with these regulations, but the cumulative effects of train traffic on local air quality and human health remain a concern.

Updates and Reports

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