Canadian National Railway Train Derails and Spills Fuel

•July 21, 2014 • Comments Off

Three Canadian National Railway locomotives and 3 CN cars derailed, striking a Wisconsin and Southern train last night at a rail crossing in Slinger, Wisconsin, causing at least another 7 cars to derail. About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from one of the locomotives (Washington Times plus several other sources).

A CN locomotive engineer and a conductor were taken to hospital with unspecified injuries. One hundred people were evacuated because of the spill and a temporary shelter was set up at a local middle school. Hazmat crews were on site, and 6 separate fire departments responded to the disaster.

The derailed CN cars were carrying frack sand. The Wisconsin and Southern train was carrying steel, lumber and plastic pellets. Some of the lumber spilled during the derailment. The extent of environmental damage caused by the fuel spill was not disclosed.

Crews worked this morning to upright the derailed cars.

See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for many more examples of CN derailments and spills.

Common-Sense Way of Decreasing Train Noise

•July 17, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded noise imageRail and Reason has recently posted this article on a simple, common-sense, and inexpensive way for decreasing disturbance caused by loud train whistles or horns, especially at night.

In Tasmania, a local railway company, TasRail, was so inundated with complaints about loud train whistles at road crossings that they did something about it. TasRail announced they would use a low-note horn between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., reduce the minimum duration a horn must be sounded as it approaches a road crossing (from 4 seconds to 1 second), and stop using a horn within TasRail’s operating and maintenance facilities in certain circumstances.

Our Canadian rail industry and Transport Canada could certainly learn a thing or two from this Tasmanian common-sense solution to a very aggravating problem.

Another Canadian National Railway Derailment in Alberta

•July 14, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment Three Hills image July 12 2014The fifth reported Canadian National Railway derailment in 6 weeks in Alberta occurred July 12 north of Three Hills, about 60 kilometres northeast of Calgary (CBC News). 15 cars derailed, causing disruptions to transportation services in the area. Most of the cars carried general consumer merchandise, while 2 carried chemicals for household and industrial use. Alberta Emergency Alert indicated a local road was closed for an undisclosed length of time.

Other reported CN derailments in Alberta during the past 6 weeks include:

1. July 4: 6 cars carrying crude oil, methanol, lumber and gravel derailed and flipped over near Whitecourt.

2. June 27: 11 grain cars derailed near Chisholm.

3. June 11: 20 cars carrying dangerous goods residue, grain and lumber derailed near Faust.

4. May 30: About 50,000 litres of molten sulphur spilled from 3 of 7 derailed cars north of Lac La Biche.

See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional CN derailments in North America.

The number of main-track and non-main-track derailments in Canada has recently been reported to be increasing significantly since the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster that killed 47 people last July.

Dangerous Goods Rail Accidents Rising Following Lac-Megantic Oil Train Disaster

•July 13, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded dangerous goods sign imageThere were more railway accidents in Canada involving dangerous goods in 2014 than during the same time period last year; in fact, dangerous goods accidents increased by over 21%.

CTV News recently reported, “According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, there were 74 instances of railway accidents involving dangerous goods from January to May 2014, compared to 61 from January to May 2013. During those same time periods, non-main-track derailments (involving dangerous goods) increased from 38 to 49″, a 29% increase.

The number of main-track derailments from January to May involving dangerous goods increased by 20% from 2013 to 2014. The number of non-main-track collisions involving dangerous goods during the same time period increased by over 15% from 2013 to 2014.

The total number of non-main-track derailments from January to May involving 1 or 2 cars increased from 177 in 2013 to 224 in 2014, a 27% increase. The number of non-main-track derailments involving 3+ cars increased by over 14% from 2013 to 2014.

The total number of main-track derailments from January to May involving 1 or 2 cars increased by over 9% from 2013 to 2014, and the number of main-track derailments involving 3+ cars increased by over 15% from 2013 to 2014.

The number of rail accidents that involved fires/explosions from January to May increased by a whopping 86% from 2013 to 2014.

The number of train incidents from January to May increased by 7% from 2013 to 2014, and the number of dangerous goods leaker incidents increased by over 19% from 2013 to 2014.

It is important to note that the above statistics represent only those data reported to the TSB by Canadian railways. There has been a history of under-reporting in this regard.

Although Transport Canada has made, or will be making, some changes to regulations in an attempt to improve rail safety, municipalities and rail safety experts are calling for more meaningful changes to address the ever-increasing transport of dangerous goods, including crude oil, by rail. Transport Action Canada President Harry Gow recently said the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster was a wake-up call for the federal government (CTV News). The Transportation Safety Board had been recommending for decades that Transport Canada tighten up its rail safety rules, appoint more inspectors and generally do more work to improve safety. Unfortunately, during the past few decades, Transport Canada had all but relinquished its rail safety oversight responsibilities to the rail industry, permitting industry to monitor itself and to provide incomplete reporting to government.

Gow said some of the changes that would improve rail safety are not possible; for example, installing bypasses away from populated areas would be too expensive of an undertaking, and as Roger Annis recently wrote in Truthout, “It would cost vast sums to upgrade tracks and wagons, route trains around the largest or most vulnerable population centres, lower train speeds, and so on. The railways and oil shippers are having none of it.” Annis considers oil train safety an oxymoron, and suggests transporting crude oil by rail cannot be made safe. If this indeed is the case, and in light of the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster a year ago, our federal and provincial governments will eventually be forced to make a decision about what is more important…continuation of the out-of-control pace of oil extraction and transport by rail…or people’s lives.

More Canadian National Railway Derailments in Alberta and Ontario

•July 10, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment image brockville july 10 2014Early this morning, 26 Canadian National Railway cars derailed in Brockville, Ontario, including 13 tanker cars carrying hazardous goods residue (up to 2,000 gallons per car), 5 cars carrying carbon powder and 2 loaded auto carriers (ReutersCTV News). Automobiles that were being transported were strewn across the tracks. Via Rail service is being disrupted for at least 2 days for Railroaded cn derailment brockville imagethousands of passengers due to the derailment on the main line. A total of 29 trains won’t be running on the track today. The site is being assessed for any spills or leaks.

On June 27, 11 CN grain cars derailed, blocking the main tracks and a public railroad crossing for about a day near Chisholm, Alberta (South Peace News). Gene Crick, a Chisholm resident, said, “I just don’t know what to think of it. But something’s got to be done because, what the heck, three derailments in a row?Regarding this particular CN derailment, he said, “The mess that I’d seen was the tracks, a real mess; twisted right up in the air. It’s just like a cat came in and plowed it up.”

Railroaded has already posted a blog on the July 4 CN derailment near Whitecourt, Alberta, where 5 to 6 cars carrying crude oil, methanol, lumber and gravel flipped over on their sides. See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for many more examples of CN derailments and spills.

“Stop Oil by Rail” Call to Action, July 6-13

•July 6, 2014 • Comments Off

“Keep the oil off the rails and in the ground.”

Railroaded Stop-Oil-by-Rail logoThat’s the message for the week of action across North America starting July 6 to commemorate the 47 people who were killed in Lac-Mégantic by the oil train that derailed July 6, 2013, spilling 6 million litres of oil into the environment, exploding and burning for days, and destroying much of downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The town has still not recovered from one of the worst rail disasters in history.

The one-week commemoration event is spearheaded by Oil Change International, 350.org, Forest Ethics and the Sierra Club (see this link). The campaign states, “Lac-Mégantic’s struggle is a grim reminder to us all: Big oil will stop at nothing to extract, transport, and burn every drop of oil in the ground. No matter the risk, no matter the cost to public health, safety, and the climate, the oil industry will jump at every opportunity to profit. But now is the time when we say NO MORE. No more exploding trains. No more tar sands. No more reckless endangerment of our communities and our climate.”

Despite the Lac-Mégantic disaster and many other oil train derailments, spills, explosions and fires, the oil and rail industries are forging ahead with grandiose plans to expand oil-by-rail in Canada and the United States. Read “Runaway Train: The Reckless Expansion of Crude-by-Rail in North America” for details of the oil and rail industries’ current and planned shipments of crude-by-rail. The report, recently prepared by Oil Change International, suggests there may be a 5-fold increase in oil train traffic in North America, threatening communities, lakes, rivers and streams, with 675 trains of 100 tank cars each carrying a total of 45 million barrels of oil through North American communities every day.

Le Carré Bleu Lac-Mégantic, a local citizen group in Lac-Mégantic, has been calling for greater transparency in the rebuilding of their town following the oil train derailment nearly a year ago. They want the rail line through the centre of downtown to be rerouted around the town. Many residents don’t want any oil train traffic whatsoever near their town.

How many more oil train disasters like the one at Lac-Mégantic will it take to convince the oil and rail industries and federal politicians in Canada and the U.S. that oil and other hazardous goods cannot be transported safely by rail?

Railroaded stop oil by rail image

Oil-by-Rail Week of Action Starts July 6

•July 4, 2014 • Comments Off

Railroaded stop oil trains image and message

 
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