Canadian National Railway Derailment and Spill Near Whitecourt, Alberta
Although early reports are conflicting, it appears a Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil, methanol, gravel and lumber derailed early this morning near Whitecourt, Alberta (QMI Agency, Reuters). At least 1 tanker car is leaking an undisclosed amount of hazardous product after 5 to 6 cars of an 81-car train derailed and flipped over on their sides.
Three of the cars contain crude oil and 1 contains methanol, a highly combustible solvent and fuel. The methanol car is under stress and the local Whitecourt Fire Deputy Chief said if the methanol gets into the groundwater it can be toxic for waterlife. A spill response team was on the scene and the Transportation Safety Board has been called in to investigate the cause of the derailment and spill. About 20 emergency response crew members were on site.
Meanwhile, concerns were raised at a June 25 meeting hosted by the Town of Slave Lake about 3 recent CN derailments in and near Slave Lake, Alberta (South Peace News). The 3 derailments include 1 in Slave Lake May 8, 1 at Faust June 11, and a third during a post-repair test. Municipal officials were nervous about the recent spate of local derailments and the risks posed by increasing rail shipments of crude oil and other hazardous goods. Meeting attendees were also concerned about the fact CN had no plans to upgrade the tracks due to heavier trains travelling the line.
See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional examples of CN derailments and spills.