Manitoba

Drone footage shows extent of oil spill near St. Lazare, Man.

Train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday morning in western Manitoba

Posted: February 20, 2019

Aerial footage shows the extent of oil that spilled from a derailed train in western Manitoba on Feb. 16. CN has not yet released details on how much oil leaked when 37 train cars went off the track. (Curtis McLeod and Amon Rudolph/Facebook)

A drone video captured by two friends shows the extent of crude oil that spilled from a derailed train near St. Lazare, Man.

Curtis McLeod and Amon Rudolph took the aerial footage about 10 hours after the spill happened in western Manitoba.

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The train derailed around 3:30 a.m. CT on Feb. 16, sending 37 train cars carrying crude oil off the tracks. No one was injured.

The men said they were shocked by the overhead view of the derailment.

"I just couldn't believe how bad the accident actually was, and how mangled the cars were, and how much oil was actually leaking," McLeod said. "We couldn't really see the accident until we flew [the drone] up."

The two said they posted the video on social media so the public could see the extent of the spill, since it would have been hard to see from the ground.

I think the video has shocked a lot of people that have seen it. - Amon Rudolph

"I was really surprised," Rudolph said. "It's really interesting to have that video."

"I think the video has shocked a lot of people that have seen it."

Cleanup could be aided by frozen ground

CN Rail is working to clean up the site, but has not said how much oil was spilled or when cleanup will be complete.

However, one soil expert says the job will likely be easier thanks to the cold temperatures.

"Luckily, the ground is frozen," said Francis Zvomuya, a professor at the University of Manitoba who researches management of contaminated land.

Zvomuya said there shouldn't been too much seepage into the ground.

"They should be able to dig up the thin layer that is impacted by that oil, so the cleanup success should be relatively good."

TSB analysing tracks

The Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate and the lead investigator told CBC News that parts from both the train and the tracks have been taken away to be analyzed.

A railway safety consultant said that could mean that tracks were to blame.

"That's indicative to me that there might have been a track failure," said Ian Naish, who formerly ran investigations for the TSB.

"I know it was pretty cold that night … you do get more rail failures at that time of year," adding he doesn't know if that was the case here. "We have to wait and see what TSB finds."

Drone footage captured by a nearby resident shows the train's rail cars spilling crude oil out onto the land. (Curtis McLeod and Amon Rudolph/Facebook)

Naish said tracks are usually inspected once or twice a week.

"It should be in really good shape, but that doesn't mean it is."

Naish said there's three times the volume of oil being transported by train as was being moved at the time of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.

"So is this going to be the start of something we don't want to see, or is this a rare event?" he said.

"Then the issue is, do you really want to have 15,000 tonne trains going at 80 km across the country, and how many are acceptable?"

The Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the train derailment near St. Lazare, Man. The lead investigator says parts from both the train and the tracks have been taken away to be analysed. (Curtis McLeod and Amon Rudolph/Facebook)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marina von Stackelberg
Journalist

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca