derailment - DOT 111 tank car

Among the cars that derailed near Plaster Rock were DOT 111 tank cars. (Transportation Safety Board/Twitter)

Some people in the Wapske area say it's too early to reconsider the growing use of rail cars to move crude oil after a CN train derailed last Tuesday night in their tiny community.

Most of those who were evacuated from their homes were able to return on the weekend.

The accident happened as government and industry continue to promote a west-east TransCanada pipeline which would send 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to refineries and export terminals in Eastern Canada, including the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John.

The proposed pipeline would run almost parallel to the CN tracks in the Plaster Rock area.

The president of Energy and Oil Pipelines for TransCanada Corp. said in a speech in November that transporting oil by pipe is safer than transporting oil by trucks or trains.

'The industry, and it has to be the industry as a whole, needs to switch over to the newer models.' - CN spokesperson Jim Feeny

TransCanada's proposed $12-billion pipeline would span 4,500 kilometres and is currently moving through the regulatory approval process.

But Wapske resident Kevin Kinney said he is not ready for a debate over the transport of crude oil by rail versus pipeline this soon after the derailment.

He was forced from his home in Wapske, and says right now his focus is on moving back in.

Kinney works for a transport company and has confidence in the regulations that exist.

"We haul stuff every day of the week that is dangerous goods," Kinney said. "There's regulations for us, there's regulations for them."

The region sees four trains passing through every day.

Wapske resident Richard Levesque said they were a part of daily life, until the unexpected happened.

“You get used to seeing it going and going and you hear of derailments in different places, but you don't think it's going to happen in your yard. Unfortunately though, it did,” said  Levesque.

“We were thinking maybe the pipeline was a better way to transfer the oil that's being moved around.”

Derek Green says he would prefer to see crude oil transported by pipeline, although he isn't worried or nervous about the trains that travel near his home, saying his family has watched them pass for generations.

Green says he is thinking about the proposal to use a pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta to the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, the same destination as the train that derailed.

"I know things are up in the air right now with the pipeline going through, so we'll let them hash that out."

Green says he is looking forward to a debate once the derailment investigation, and clean-up is complete.

New tanker car regulations mulled

Meanwhile new federal rules were the subject of a forum in Ottawa on Monday where representatives of Canada's rail companies and government regulators are meeting to discuss the risks of growing rail shipments of crude by DOT-111 rail tank cars.

The DOT-111 is the most common rail tanker used. It has a single steep hull and is not as sturdy as other models which are pressurized.

CN spokesperson Jim Feeny says his company welcomes new federal rules on tanker cars, as long as they are applied across North America.

"The industry, and it has to be the industry as a whole, needs to switch over to the newer models," he said.