Category Archives: CN Rail

Ontario derailment: tar-sands crude (diluted bitumen), more pictures

Repost from  CBC News
[Editor: New details: carrying tar-sands dilbit; 15 cars released crude oil and seven caught fire; responders letting it burn itself out; oil pooling at the frozen headwaters of a small creek; nearby Mattagami First Nation concerned; expect all trees in the surrounding area to be coated with toxins, some die-off; soil contamination a long range cleanup.  – RS] 

Gogama oil spill raises concerns about environmental damage

Cleanup continues at the site of a CN train derailment about 30 km northwest of Gogama, Ont.

CBC News, Feb 18, 2015 9:27 AM ET, Updated: Feb 18, 2015 11:57 AM ET
Derailed tank cars, Gogama, Ontario. (Transportation Safety Board)

While investigators continue to search for the cause of a CN train Saturday near Gogama, Ont., the environmental impact is becoming more apparent.

Black charred oil tankers lie on their sides in snow stained by crude oil.

CN said the derailed train was carrying diluted bitumen from Alberta to eastern Canada.

Laurentian University professor Charles Ramcharan says that’s one of the worst things that can be spilled.

“The trouble is that it’s very toxic, so if you have a spill it causes a lot of damage and because the bitumen is a solid, it stays on the landscape for a very long time.”

The nearby Mattagami First Nation is also concerned.

Oil is pooling at the frozen headwaters of a small creek near the site of the derailment.

Councillor Jennifer Constant said that waterway leads to her community.

“The impacts may be not immediate, but what are the long-term aspects going to be for people who do utilize the lake and go hunting in the area? They’ve used these lands for time immemorial and they’re worried about the impacts of that,” she said.

“Their health or practices have the potential to be affected by this.”

Contamination, die-off

While CN works with partners to clean up the spill, Ramachran said he worries the incident could fall off the radar because of its remote location.

“Just because there are no immediate human health concerns, I do worry that this one will kind of fall off the radar.”

CN says crews are letting a controlled fire burn out at the site.

Once the dillutants burn off, tar will be left to remove, Ramcharan noted.

He predicted all trees in the surrounding area will be coated with toxins, leading to some die-off. He said the soil will be contaminated as well.

A total of 15 cars released crude oil and seven caught fire when the train went off the tracks late Saturday night.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a section of broken rail containing a rail joint and a broken wheel.

The director with Transport Action Ontario, an organization that advocates for transportation improvements, said some kind of mechanical failure might be to blame.

“It’s hard to tell,” Dan Hammond said.

“You know, I would like the investigation to take its course on this one. But things like broken wheels, the industry does not like to see.”

CN said both the train and the track passed safety inspections shortly before the derailment.

Seven months after January derailment – family left living in tents

Repost from CBC News | New Brunswick

CN derailment near Plaster Rock has left family living in tents

Caleb Levesque and family say CN is to blame for the ongoing issues with their home
CBC News, Aug 08, 2014
Investigators at the scene of the CN derailment in Wapske, near Plaster Rock.
Investigators at the scene of the CN derailment in Wapske, near Plaster Rock. (Transportation Safety Board/Twitter)

Family members in Wapske, N.B., say they have been living in tents on their front lawn for more than a month after their house was ruined following a freight train derailment near Plaster Rock in January.

They say CN Rail is to blame.

Caleb Levesque, the son of the property owner, and his family, say their house remains unlivable due to damage from a train derailment back in January.

Jeff Levesque, whose home was damaged in the CN derailment near Plaster Rock
Jeff Levesque and his son Caleb, whose home was damaged in the CN derailment near Plaster Rock in January, say a carpenter hired by CN has done a botched job of repairs. (CBC)

Levesque says a carpenter hired by CN Rail to fix their house following the derailment left the house worse than before due to poor craftsmanship.

The initial heat of the train derailment melted much of the siding on the house. The carpenter replaced the siding but Levesque says the carpenter CN Rail hired didn’t do it right.

“So all the siding is falling off, buckling. So we’ve been getting a lot of water when it rains,” he said.

Levesque said when post-tropical storm Arthur arrived, the water came right through the new siding, leaving puddles on the floor.

“Completely soaked it, just big puddles on the floor. The inside of the house is soaked, damaged. It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It smells so bad you don’t even want to go in the house.”

Residents wary of mould

Levesque says the most concerning thing now is the mould throughout the house.

He says so far CN Rail has refused to fix the ongoing problem.

Levesque is staying in a tent with his girlfriend, their dog and cat. His father is in another tent, all on their front lawn.

Trains are rolling again near Plaster Rock
Trains are rolling again through the section that had been closed due to the derailment. (Matt Bingley/CBC)

To shower and launder, they’ve been driving to the house of a family friend. For cooking, they’ve made due with just a barbecue, without the use of a stove or fridge.

“It sucks. It’s not so bad when you’re just camping, but when you have to do it for over a month … it’s hard,” said Levesque.

He says CN Rail officials should acknowledge the unacceptable conditions their hired carpenter left the home in, and pay to make it right.

“They took the responsibility on when the train went by our house and derailed, they took the responsibility to fix everything that they had damaged,” said Levesque.

The Levesques got an initial quote on the damage from restoration specialist Nicholas Mann, of ServiceMaster Restore.

Mann estimated it would cost about $160,000 to fix the home properly. Levesque said CN Rail offered him $2,500 after receiving the report.

“Right now all we want is to get our house fixed and everything that was in the house replaced,” said Levesque. “We just want our house fixed so we can go home.”

Levesque says his lawyer hopes to meet with CN Rail in September to sort out a solution.

Train jumped the tracks

A 122-car train derailed on Jan. 7 with 19 cars and a locomotive jumping the tracks.

Five derailed tanker cars were carrying crude oil from Western Canada to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., while four other tankers carried liquefied petroleum gas.

About 150 people living within a two-kilometre radius of the crash site were forced to leave their homes for several days.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation found one of the wheels on the 13th car broke from “fatigue.”