Plaster Rock derailment cleanup shrouded in secrecy

CN Rail says it's making good progress cleaning up after the train derailment near Plaster Rock, but the New Brunswick Green Party said the public has the right to know what’s going on behind the secured barricade.
This was as close as our cameras ever got to the Wapske crash site. These aerial images were taken from a private helicopter, chartered by the CBC. (CBC)

CN Rail says it's making good progress cleaning up after the train derailment near Plaster Rock, but the New Brunswick Green Party said the public has the right to know what’s going on behind the secured barricade.

The closest CBC was able to get to the Wapske scene was chartering a private helicopter to take aerial shots of the site.

On the grounds, private security guards tightly control who goes in and out of the crash site more than a week after the fire was extinguished and days after residents were told they could return to their homes.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said things were handled “perfectly.”

He said the risk mitigation managers on site “are not comfortable with allowing access due to the large number of trucks and heavy equipment moving in, out and around the worksite."

Behind the barricade, trucks move contaminated soil to a Fredericton worksite run by Envirem Organics.

But they declined to do an interview, without CN's permission.

"CN will not provide the names of the contractors we are using. These are proprietary, business contracts,” said Feeny.

Green Party Leader David Coon said the public has the right to know how the cleanup is progressing.

“I think they should expect to hear pretty quickly from the minister of environment. I think we do have one,” he said.

Coon said the government is accountable to the people, while CN is a private company

“How much should you clean up? That's the question that industry always likes to answer, less than probably what the public wants to see,” he said.

When asked for a comment on Wednesday, Environment Minister Danny Soucy said he was tied up in meetings all afternoon.

About 150 people had to leave their homes Jan. 7 when the 122-car train derailed, with 19 cars and one 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.

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