Canadian National Railway Train Derails in Manitoba and Spills Cargo – Update

•March 12, 2015 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment NE of Brandon image 2015A Canadian National Railway train derailed on CN’s mainline March 11 near Gregg, about 50 km east of Brandon, Manitoba. 13 cars carrying refinery cracking stock, a type of bitumen, fell off the tracks and one of the tank cars spilled about 30,000 litres. An emergency plan was activated, and crews are working with Manitoba environment officials to clean up the spilled product (CBC News). An emergency action notice has been issued to CN to ensure the material is disposed of appropriately (Winnipeg Free Press).

This derailment follows several other major derailments of CN oil trains in northern Ontario that involved crude oil spills, fires and damages to the environment.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for more information on many other CN derailments in Canada and the United States.

Update on Canadian National Railway Oil Train Disaster Near Gogama, Ontario

•March 10, 2015 • Comments Off

As more information becomes available on the March 7 derailment of a Canadian National Railway oil train near Gogama, north of Sudbury, Ontario, it appears it is among CN’s worst oil train derailments (Sudbury Northern LifeCBC News 1CBC News 2Investor CentralToronto Star).

Railroaded CN derailment gogama image 3The number of tank cars loaded with crude oil that derailed about 3 km from Gogama has now risen to 38. A total of 94 tank cars was loaded with synthetic crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands region. At least 5 tank cars full of oil plunged into the Makami River which is part of the Mattagami River system. Investigators were unable to get close to the accident site due to the intensity of the massive fires that burned furiously, but it appears that firefighters have just put out the last of the fires which were essentially left to burn out. It is not clear whether air quality and drinking water advisories announced shortly following the derailment are still in effect.

Track damage is so severe that a 460-metre temporary bypass around the wreckage site is under construction. The bridge across the river is seriously damaged, perhaps beyond repair. The derailment has cut off all rail traffic between Winnipeg and Toronto; CN’s mainline tracks remain closed for an undetermined period of time.

Although it is too early to determine how much crude oil spilled, the environmental damage is bound to be significant. Oil has spilled into the Mattagami River system, including Minisinakwa Lake. Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada said, “Long after this initial spotlight fades away, we’ll still see impacts in the local ecosystems.” Some crude will end up in the soil, some in the water, and the crude that burned “will deposit toxins in the area which will eventually get into the ecosystem”, Stewart said. Particularly concerning is the fact that much of the spilled oil has made its way into the Mattagami River water system. 3 sets of booms have been placed in the river in an attempt to contain some of the spilled oil, but very little oil is ever recovered from spills, said Environmental Defence spokesperson Adam Scott. “Companies will talk about cleanups but, in reality, the cleanup is only of a small percentage of the oil spilled. In a case like this, it could be crude oil submerged into the river, into the soil. There is a good chance that there will be crude permanently in the environment in the region in some way”. There is no restoring the ecosystems to their original health he said. “So until something dramatic is done, we’re going to see this continuing over and over again”, Scott continued. Companies assure people that they have spill response plans in place, “but when your spill response plan is to let it burn for days, that’s kind of scary”, said Stewart.

Railroaded CN derailment Gogama image 4Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno has publicly called for a coordinated response from Canadian National Railway, the federal government and the Ontario government, following the second major CN train derailment, oil spill and fires near the Mattagami First Nation in 3 weeks that has threatened the community’s air and water quality. On February 14, another CN train loaded with crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands derailed in the Mattagami First Nation’s traditional territory, only about 37 km from the March 7 derailment site. That accident saw 29 of 100 tank cars loaded with crude oil fall off the tracks and 7 cars burned for almost a week. Over 1 million litres of crude oil was spilled, but the extent of environmental damage from that derailment has not yet been disclosed. The Mattagami First Nation is concerned about the impacts of the 2 spills and fires on the animals they hunt, fish and trap.

Chief Walter Naveau of the Mattagami First Nation said his community no longer feels safe. “People in the community were feeling the effects of the toxins in the air – respiratory problems, they could feel it in their chests and their breathing.” He said he could not trust the public statements being made by CN which attempted to allay the concerns local residents had about air quality. He added his community is also concerned that the river flows into the community’s main spawning grounds for fish, in addition to habitat for other wildlife.

Local Gogama residents are also concerned about the impacts of these latest CN derailments in their community. Dawn Simoneau, a life-long resident of Gogama, said her 2 daughters have been asking questions about the derailment, “Like ‘Are the fish going to be okay?’ and they are concerned as well”. Gerry Talbot, Secretary of the Local Services Board, said there is some question whether new federal rail safety regulations go far enough. He said Gogama community members want answers from CN and the federal government as to why the derailments are happening. He is also concerned about not being informed by CN what’s in the rail cars passing through his community. “Hey guys, we’ve got to do something about this. You know, these people don’t need to go through this amount of stress. I can handle other kinds of stress, but this is getting a little too close to home…Well it certainly brings it home because of the Lac-Megantic tragedy. You got one that’s two kilometres away and you see the flames, you see the smoke, yeah, holy mackeral, is the next one right in Gogama?”, said Talbot.

The March 7 derailment is the fifth reported CN derailment in Ontario so far in 2015. The Ontario provincial government is concerned about the number of CN derailments. Glenn Thibeault, Liberal MPP for Sudbury and parliamentary assistant to Ontario’s environment minister, said, “The federal government, responsible for rail safety, must do more to protect our communities and the environment. The rail cars involved are new models, compliant with the latest federal regulations. Yet they still failed to prevent this incident.” Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said in a recent statement that he “will be contacting Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, CN and CP this week to reiterate our government’s serious concerns with respect to ensuring our railways are safe.” The NDP MPP who represents Gogama, France Gélinas, said the recent derailments have shaken the area and made residents “nervous” about the railway…“and we need to have substantive changes so that people in Gogama and throughout the northeast can feel safe again.”

Following the 2 CN derailments near Gogama in 3 weeks, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says she has made her concerns known to Canadian National Railway. She has asked CN about their inspections and activities in the area. “It does make you think and it makes you wonder…operationally, that they have to make sure what they’re doing is exactly correct…That’s a lot of cars and that’s too many derailments, in my opinion, in a short period of time”, said Raitt.

Canadian National Railways’ most recent derailments, spills and fires have certainly heightened the debate about rail safety in Canada. Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for more information about CN derailments in Canada and the United States. See this link for more information on the hazards of shipping oil by rail.

Major Canadian National Railway Derailment and Fire North of Sudbury – Updated (2)

•March 7, 2015 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment Gogama march 7 2015 imageIt’s almost impossible to keep track of the number of reported Canadian National Railway derailments. Early this morning, another CN derailment occurred in northern Ontario, this time about 100 km north of Sudbury and about 3 km from Gogama (CTV NewsSudbury Northern LifeToronto StarSudbury Northern Life [2]). 30 to 40 tank cars loaded with crude oil fell off CN’s mainline tracks, at least 5 caught fire, and others tumbled into the Mattagami River. The media were initially told that only 10 cars had derailed. Today’s derailment is only 37 km from the site of another CN oil train derailment on February 14, 2015.

Railroaded CN derailment Gogama image march 2015Residents in nearby Gogama have been told to stay indoors, and Mattagami First Nations members have been told to avoid drinking water from the community source because an undisclosed volume of crude oil has spilled into the adjacent waterway. The local health unit has advised people who take water directly from Minisinakwa Lake, or from wells supplied by the river, not to use that water for drinking or cooking until further notice. The local fire department recommended anybody with breathing problems to stay indoors until further notice because particles in the smoke might be dangerous. A section of the main highway connecting Timmins with southern Ontario has been closed. An emergency response plan has been activated with local officials. The extent of environmental damage has not yet been determined; however, booms have been deployed in an attempt to contain the spilled oil in local waterways.

The CN train was transporting crude oil from Alberta to eastern Canada. Via Rail has cancelled travel along the mainline.

Railroaded CN derailment Gogama image 2CN confirmed the oil was being shipped in tank cars built to the newer CPC-1232 standard which have enhancements that were supposed to make them less vulnerable to puncture. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has already indicated the newer tank car model has performed similarly during derailments to the older DOT-111 tank car model and is really no safer. The newer model tank cars have also punctured in several other recent derailments.

The Gogama Village Inn owner said, “It’s frightening and nerve-wracking, especially after what happened in Quebec. People here are on pins and needles. The tracks run right through town…I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of talk afterward that this shouldn’t be in the middle of our town…I’d have them move the track right out of town.”

This most recent derailment, is the fifth CN derailment reported so far in Ontario in 2015. On March 5, 16 CN tank cars loaded with crude oil or gasoline residue derailed east of Hornepayne. 29 tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed February 14 near Timmins and 7 cars burned for almost a week. On January 31, 2 CN cars derailed in Richmond Hill – 1 was loaded with hazardous sulphuric acid and 1 was carrying steel. 4 CN grain cars fell off the tracks inside a Thunder Bay rail yard on January 9, damaging the track.

Rounding out the number of CN derailments reported so far in 2015, are 3 in Alberta (1 near Conklin, 1 in Jasper, 1 near Jarrow); 1 in downtown Winnipeg; 1 in the Mont-Joli region of Quebec; 1 in Butler County, Pennsylvania; and 1 northwest of Duluth, Minnesota.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of examples of additional CN derailments in Canada and the United States. It’s important to note that CN does not report all of its derailments. See this link for more information on the many hazards associated with shipping oil and other dangerous goods by rail.

Canadian National Railway Train Derails Near Conklin, Alberta

•March 6, 2015 • Comments Off

Four Canadian National Railway tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed February 15 in the Windell Yard siding near Conklin, between Fort McMurray and Lac La Biche, Alberta. It appears very few people other than CN were aware of the derailment until recently, when the Lac La Biche Post was able to get some limited information.

Although a CN spokesperson said local emergency services were advised of the accident, the Post determined no local emergency services were contacted by CN at the time of the accident.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for information on many more CN derailments in Canada and the U.S. See this link for information on the many hazards associated with transporting oil and other dangerous goods by rail.

Another Canadian National Railway Derailment in Northern Ontario

•March 5, 2015 • Comments Off

Sixteen Canadian National Railway cars derailed today about 100 km east of Hornepayne, Ontario (Reuters and other media sources). Derailed cars were tank cars loaded with flammable crude oil or gasoline residue. CN’s mainline linking Toronto and Winnipeg remained closed in both directions for an undetermined period of time.

Only a few weeks earlier (Feb. 14), another Canadian National Railway train derailed in northern Ontario south of Timmins. 29 of 100 tank cars loaded with crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands derailed in that accident, and 7 cars burned for several days. More than 1 million litres of crude oil was spilled (CBC News). The extent of environmental damage has not been disclosed.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for many other examples of CN derailments in Canada and the United States.

Aging Track Caused Canadian National Railway Fiery Derailment – Gainford

•March 1, 2015 • Comments Off

Railroaded CN derailment gainford photo 2Deteriorating rail infrastructure caused 13 Canadian National Railway tank cars to derail and explode in a fireball October 19, 2013 in Gainford, Alberta (Edmonton Journal). The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada recently released its investigative report on the accident that resulted in a local state of emergency and evacuation of 106 nearby homes. 138 people were evacuated for 4 days and one house was damaged by the intense heat.

Four tank cars loaded with crude oil and 9 pressurized tank cars loaded with liquefied petroleum gas (propane) fell off CN’s mainline in a curved section of the tracks. Two of the propane tank cars broke open and caught fire, causing a huge explosion that lit up the night sky. A third tank car released propane from its safety valve, which ignited.

TSB investigators found 16 transverse cracks in old rails, one of which actually split the track. The high (outside) rail in the track curve that broke was marked by visible surface cracks and chunks of rail falling out, said George Fowler, a TSB investigator. The track, made in the 1970s, was due for replacement. The low (inside) rail in the curve had been replaced in March 2013. The new rail sat taller than the old worn rail it replaced, which put more pressure and stress on the older high rail that also needed replacement. Replacing only the low rail “obviously…wasn’t the right decision based on the derailment” said Fowler. “Railroads are good businesses. They are not going to replace an asset before they have to”, Fowler continued.

The TSB’s comments certainly highlight one of the main causes of derailments and other accidents, namely that railway corporations let their rail infrastructure deteriorate to the point where it falls apart. If regular and adequate safety monitoring and maintenance were conducted, the number of derailments would be significantly lower; however, adequate monitoring and maintenance cost money and time, which affects the bottom line of railway companies like Canadian National Railway. Transport Canada has also been repeatedly criticized by the TSB and rail safety experts for inadequate oversight of companies’ rail safety programs. In many cases, federal legislation already exists to address rail safety issues; unfortunately, the legislation is poorly enforced by the federal government. In other cases, new legislation is required to address shortfalls in rail safety measures.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional examples of CN derailments, spills, explosions and fires.

More Canadian National Railway Derailments in Pennsylvania and Alberta

•February 28, 2015 • Comments Off

Canadian National Railway is having trouble convincing the public that they run a safe railway, considering the number of reported CN derailments during an 11-day period from February 14 to February 25. Railroaded has already reported on CN derailments February 25 near Duluth, Minnesota; and February 14 near Timmins, Ontario.

Another Canadian National Railway derailment occurred February 25 in Butler County, Pennsylvania, the same day of the Duluth, Minnesota derailment. The Pennsylvania derailment involved 27 cars loaded with iron ore falling off the tracks about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh (Daily Journal). The rail line had to be closed for at least 2 days while the derailed CN cars and loads were cleaned off the tracks, and the damaged tracks repaired. The train was traveling from Conneaut, Ohio to Pittsburgh.

On February 14, the same day of the Timmins, Ontario CN derailment, several cars of a CN train went off the tracks in a Jasper, Alberta rail yard (Fitzhugh). Although CN provided no information to the media, they did park a train in front of the derailed cars to obstruct the view of the accident from the Jasper townsite. A crane was observed helping to get the cars back onto the tracks. CN employees were still working on the tracks where the derailment occurred 3 days following the accident.

During the same 11-day period, a CSX oil train derailed near Charleston, West Virginia on February 16 involving 27 tank cars loaded with Bakken crude oil, about 15 of which caught fire and several plunged into the Kanawha River, spilling crude oil. Two Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives and 13 cars derailed on February 4 north of Dubuque, Iowa. 3 of 11 derailed tank cars loaded with ethanol caught fire and another 3 tank cars plunged into the Mississippi River.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents  for many more examples of CN derailments in Canada and the U.S.



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