09/16/2014 09:56 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:52 EDT

Nova Scotia rail line inspections appropriate, provincial government says

HALIFAX - Transport Canada has given assurances that an appropriate inspection process is being carried out along a rail line through northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, says the province's transportation minister.

Last month, Geoff MacLellan said he would seek assurances after a report found 18 key factors in last year's fatal railcar explosion in Lac-Megantic, Que.

He also said he became aware of concerns expressed by some municipalities and members of the public after three recent derailments along the line that runs from Truro to Sydney.

MacLellan said the federal department has since told him that the operator of the rail line is in compliance with regulations.

"From a technical perspective the rail line is in compliance," said MacLellan. "They've noted that there are a number of small deficiencies ... but no significant safety concerns, according to the inspectors."

MacLellan said small deficiencies include worn rail ties on small sections of track.

He said the line's operator, the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway, conducts weekly inspections while several are carried out by Transport Canada each year on behalf of the province, which is the regulator.

The provincial department will be taking additional steps to ensure safety, including seeking permission from the railway to ride the line for its own visual inspection, MacLellan said. The department will also meet next week with town officials in New Glasgow and Port Hawkesbury to go over their specific concerns.

The department said Transport Canada's most recent inspection was conducted over the entire mainland line about two weeks ago and nothing was found that required immediate attention.