Major Canadian National Railway Crude Oil Train Derailment and Fire in Ontario – Update
Twenty-nine of 100 tank cars loaded with crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands area derailed about 80 km south of Timmins, Ontario around midnight February 14, and 7 cars were still burning 4 days later (many media sources). The derailment occurred in a remote area on Canadian National Railway’s mainline. Firefighting and environmental crews and equipment are still at the site. As a result of the derailment, which is still blocking CN’s mainline, Via Rail has cancelled all passenger service between Toronto and Winnipeg until the rail line can be cleared. Via made alternate arrangements for those passengers already en route or due to travel since the derailment.
Access to the remote site is challenging for emergency crews, and it will be difficult to determine the volume of crude oil spilled and the extent of environmental damage. CN is not sure when the mainline between Montreal and Winnipeg will reopen, and has said shippers should expect delays.
CN has been asked to keep Ontario Environment, Environment Canada, Health Canada and nearby First Nations updated. Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada are involved in the derailment investigation.
Earlier in the morning of the same day of the CN derailment in Ontario, 12 Canadian Pacific Railway tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed in the Crowsnest Pass in southern Alberta (Railway Age). Two of the derailed cars toppled over on their sides, and their loads had to be transferred into 3 rescue tankers dispatched from Lethbridge.
Then on February 16, about 27 CSX tank cars loaded with Bakken crude oil derailed near Charleston, West Virginia. About 15 of the derailed cars caught fire and several plunged into the Kanawha River, spilling an undisclosed amount of oil.
These latest derailments, spills and fires intensify the growing debate on the hazards of transporting crude oil and other dangerous goods by rail. The focus of the big railway corporations on the bottom line and their stock performance, at the expense of rail safety, continues to worry Canadians and Americans. Homeowners, businesses and industries located near rail lines are particularly concerned because they are most susceptible to the dangers of derailments, spills, explosions and fires.
For hundreds of examples of additional Canadian National Railway derailments in Canada and the U.S., read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents, and see this link for more information on the many hazards associated with transporting crude oil by rail.