CN working to clean up oil tanker spill near St-Lazare


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Federal investigators are probing the Saturday derailment of dozens of oil cars in western Manitoba, which has leaked crude oil near the Assiniboine River.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/02/2019 (1498 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Federal investigators are probing the Saturday derailment of dozens of oil cars in western Manitoba, which has leaked crude oil near the Assiniboine River.

CN Rail says 37 crude-oil cars from a single train derailed at 3:30 a.m. near St-Lazare, which sits 10 kilometres from the Saskatchewan border, along one of Canada’s busiest rail lines.

The cars derailed onto pasture owned by rancher Jayme Corr. “We could smell it (oil) in the air when we went outside,” Corr told the Brandon Sun, adding that he felt the track was poorly maintained.

CN spokesman Jonathan Abecassis said crews will assess how much oil has spilled.

“The leak has been contained and has not penetrated the Assiniboine River. Our environmental team is preparing clean up and remediation to protect the environment,” he wrote.

Owen Jessop, fire chief for the RM of Ellice-Archie, said there were no injuries or fires, and that the incident occurred along a flat stretch of land in a valley. “We are assisting CN police with traffic control,” he texted from just outside the perimeter, which he said spans three kilometres.

A spokesman for Manitoba’s Sustainable Development department said that not all 37 derailed cars are leaking.

“There is no risk of contamination to the Assiniboine River,” wrote the spokesman. “A number of provincial agencies are involved in the response to this incident, but CN Rail is leading the cleanup.”

Corr, who had long expected such an incident, said he’d bothered the company for years about its upkeep of the track.

“It’s no surprise, put it that way, that something was going to happen down here,” he said. “Until they start maintaining the track, this is going to keep happening.”

Last month, two oncoming trains collided near Portage la Prarie, near a bridge where two lines of track merge.

The Transportation Safety Board is looking into the incident. “We’ve deployed a team of investigators to the site,” said spokesman Alexandre Fournier, who expected officials to arrive late Saturday afternoon.

It’s unclear how the incident will impact rail shipments; sites are normally opened only after railway and independent investigators probe the area.

The derailment has occurred along CN’s Rivers subdivision, one the busiest stretches of rail track in Canada.

Last month, the Free Press reported on years of issues at the bunkhouse the company uses for its workers to rest during multi-day trips. As recently as this past summer, workers have reported sleeping on floors and couches.

A historic amount of crude oil is moving by rail across Canada, due to backlogs in pipeline construction. According to American data, more than two million barrels of Canadian crude is being exported by rail each month into Midwest states through lines in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northwestern Ontario.

That’s a doubling from the amount of oil sent along that line from August back until 2012, when authorities started publishing that data. 

With files from Bud Robertson, Brandon Sun


Updated on Saturday, February 16, 2019 5:56 PM CST: Updated

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