St. Lazare train derailment report delayed

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/10/2021 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON — The final report into a 2019 train derailment that spilled hundreds of thousands of litres of oil near St. Lazare has yet to be released — approximately a year after it was originally scheduled to be completed.

The Rural Municipality of Ellice-Archie, site of the derailment, “Hasn’t heard a peep about it,” Reeve Barry Lowes said Friday. “We haven’t got any correspondence whatsoever.”

On Feb. 16, 2019, 37 railcars carrying crude oil derailed and crashed in the countryside near St. Lazare. Investigators said at the time the train was rolling east at 79 km/h when it experienced a “train-initiated emergency brake application.”

St. Lazare is approximately a two-hour drive northwest of Brandon, near the Saskatchewan border.

Fourteen cars ruptured, spilling a combined 820,000 litres of oil. The incident happened in the middle of the winter and crews built a berm around the spill. At the time, there was concern oil could spill into the Assiniboine River but it was all recovered, officials said.

The investigation is currently in the report phase, according to the last update on the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s website, from March. In this stage, a confidential draft report is approved by the TSB and sent to those involved. They can then review the report before it is made public.

A release date for the final report has not been scheduled. Originally, it was due 600 days after the incident, in late 2020, which spokesperson Alex Fournier said at the time was not a firm deadline.

Lowes speculated the delay could be because of COVID-19 pandemic-related slowdowns.

The Transportation Safety Board did not respond Friday by the Sun’s deadline.

The investigation is a Class 2 investigation, which means it is complex and involves “several safety issues requiring in-depth analysis,” according to the TSB.

According to its summary of the incident, seven of the derailed cars were chosen for a more detailed analysis. Samples were sent to the TSB laboratory in Ottawa for further scrutiny.

Class 2 investigations typically result in the TSB making safety recommendations.

— Brandon Sun

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