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Cracked wheel found at site of train crash

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Derailed CN cars carrying crude oil and propane burn in Plaster Rock, N.B., after Tuesday's derailment.

TOM BATEMAN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Derailed CN cars carrying crude oil and propane burn in Plaster Rock, N.B., after Tuesday's derailment.

PLASTER ROCK, N.B. -- Investigators have found a cracked wheel and broken rail at the scene of a fiery train derailment in northwestern New Brunswick as about 150 people who live near the crash were told Thursday there is still no timeline for when they can return to their homes with the evacuation entering its third day.

Guy Laporte, a senior investigator with the federal Transportation Safety Board, said he has had limited access to the scene of the wreckage because of a fire that has been burning since the train derailed Tuesday night. The CN freight train was carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas when it left the tracks in Wapske.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said the company believes a wheel and axle failure was the cause of the derailment based on its preliminary investigation, but Laporte said it's premature to determine that.

"It is too early to say what the cause is and contributing factors of this accident might be," Laporte told a news conference Thursday in the village of Plaster Rock, near the derailment site.

"The axle is not broken itself. It's not in two parts."

Feeny said CN still believes the cracked wheel triggered the derailment at this point in their investigation.

"Indications are that there was a sudden failure of a wheel on Car 13, which ultimately led to the chain of events that led to this derailment," he said.

"Now, there are a number of factors that still have to be looked at as part of that. What exactly failed on the wheel? What are the causes of that failure?"

Some residents have been allowed to temporarily return to their homes. Karen Green, 55, said she checked on her four cats and was hoping she would be allowed to return home by the weekend.

"I'd really like to be home in my own bed at night," the school bus driver said.

Officials from CN, the province's Environment Department and the Emergency Measures Organization met with residents affected by the evacuation late Thursday afternoon.

Ann Powers said people voiced common concerns at the meeting, asking questions about the environment and drinking water.

"When we can get into our homes and the water?" Power said following the meeting. "Is the environment and the ground going to be OK when we do get into our homes?"

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 10, 2014 A13

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