Calgary derailment protesters gather after 'CP Fail'

About 60 people stood outside Alyth Yard in Calgary to protest what they see as a failure of Canadian Pacific Railways after a train derailment Wednesday night.

Removal of product from high-pressure cars has been extremely challenging, city says

About 60 people stood outside Alyth Yard in Calgary to protest what they see as a failure of Canadian Pacific Railways after a train derailment Wednesday night. 2:26

"CP Rail, CP Fail! CP Rail, CP Fail!"

About 60 people stood outside Calgary’s Alyth Yard to protest and chant after what they see as a failure of Canadian Pacific Railways in a train derailment Wednesday night.

Rebecca O'Brien, who helped organize the demonstration, was one of the protesters holding signs and placards.

"We’re here because we’re fed up and concerned with the absence of information about what CP Rail is transporting.

As the Inglewood residents voiced their concerns, cleanup of the overturned tankers continued. Around 5 p.m. MT Wednesday, several cars carrying flammable liquids came off the tracks as a slow-moving train was heading northbound out of the Alyth Yard.

Dozens of people gathered in Inglewood on Friday night to protest after cars on a Canadian Pacific Railways train derailed Wednesday. (Neil Herland/CBC)

There were no leaks or injuries, but more than 140 homes were evacuated as a precaution for a few hours because of the incident.

Protestor Cheryl Myers said Friday she is worried about her safety, especially after the tragedy in Lac-Megantic.

"Quebec was devastating, absolutely devastating. We don’t want that here, we want CP to take responsibility. With two derailments within months apart here — its’ scary, it’s carelessness," said Myers. 

Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra, who represents the Inglewood area,  said people are starting to get fed up.

"There has been a discussion for years about dangerous goods moving through the city on rail and that became a lot more of a focused conversation following the flood-related derailment of the collapse of the bridge, then Lac-Mégantic, and now we are dealing with this."

Carra said the relationship with CP Rail has been tenuous in the past. He said they need a clear set of regulations that lays out responsibilities and establishes safety protocals to protect the public and let first responders know what they are walking into.

"I think they want answers, right," said Carra. "I think that they are afraid and they have every reason to be afraid given recent events in Quebec."

Crews said Friday it's proving extremely challenging for the city to remove the product from the high-pressure rail cars. Fire officials say it is taking roughly four to six hours to move the product from each tanker into an empty car on an adjacent track.

Fire Chief Bruce Burrell hopes it will be cleaned up by tonight.

As work is still ongoing, the road closure of 15 Street between Blackfoot Trail and Ninth Avenue S.E. is still in effect.

Mayor to meet with CP Rail

A natural gas line was also ruptured by the derailed cars.

Crews are still cleaning up after several rail cars carrying flammable liquids derailed Wednesday. While there was no spill, officials say it is proving difficult to remove the petroleum product from the pressurized cars. (CBC)

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is concerned there was difficulty in finding out from CP Rail what was in the derailed cars as fire crews arrived on the scene.

CP Rail says the product was diluent, which is used to thin petroleum products — including bitumen from the oilsands — to help transport them through pipelines.

"[Fire crews] manage situations in different ways based on things like the volatility of the chemical, the explosive point, the flash point and we need accurate, complete information right from the beginning," he said. 

"We shouldn't have to search around for what was in those cars and certainly this week, we've learned that there may be a systemic problem in the railroad industry with mislabelling of contents of cars and that is a big issue."

Nenshi says the derailment raises questions about what trains are carrying and when they are moving. He says this most recent incident caused a lot more problems because it occurred during rush hour.

Nenshi is still upset about another derailment in the city and wants a meeting with CP's CEO Hunter Harrison.

CP Rail will not speculate about the cause of the derailment on its main line near the community of Inglewood, but can confirm a meeting between Harrison and the mayor is scheduled for next week.

This incident marks the third time CP has had train derailment issues within Calgary in recent months. Nenshi raised concerns about CP operations during June's floods when tanker cars derailed on the Bonnybrook bridge.

  • Here are some notable Calgary train derailments. Click on the icons for more details about the number of train cars involved, if there were injuries and if the incident resulted in a spill.
The lines on this map represent the rail tracks that run through Calgary. The brown lines belong to Canadian Pacific Railway and the blue dot represents where the derailment took place on Wednesday. The red lines show Canadian National Railway tracks. (Courtesy Canadian National Railway Company)